Mike Kelley’s work grapples with mass culture’s representations, undermining sacrosanct subjects (history, art, philosophy, religion, science) and their practitioners through popular culture’s leveling and debasing inscriptions. Shock is part of Kelley’s Monkey Island (1982–83), a performance and installation made up of a sexually charged adolescent cosmology of insects and monkeys. For Monkey Island, Kelley played with the metaphorical implications of the X-shaped diagram (familiar to art historians) that stands for the relationship of the viewer to illusionistic space in perspectival painting. The components that comprise the work are hung salon-style in their own room, positioned where architectural elements meet (such as abutting corners or above the door), so that the installation itself constitutes a mapping of the space.
Mike Kelley (b. 1954, Detroit; lives and works in Los Angeles)
Acrylic and mercurochrome on paper
Three works: 47 3/4 x 37 1/2 in. each; one work: 24 x 19 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The El Paso Natural Gas Company Fund for California Art