Tag Archives: Mike Kelley


Written in 1981 and shot in 1982 while I was teaching a performance / installation class at the Minneapolis College of Art and DesignTHE BANANA MAN was my first completed video work.  Basically it is a one-person affair, though several of my students assisted and performed in the project.  The tape was my attempt to deal with the problem of character, the subject of much discussion at that time in relation to performance art.  I

In my own performance work, character was a function of language. As ideas shifted, so did one’s understanding of who was talking: unlike traditional theater, there were no consistent characters. I realized I could never deal with all the material I had written about the Banana Man in a live performance because it was character-based. I felt that the character would ground the piece too much, and prevent the kind of temporal confusion I was interested in. No matter what happened or how the ideas would flip, the viewer could always resort to this stable character as the “logic” of the piece. This is why I decided to present the work in video. Because of the conventions of editing, video and film tend to normalize fracture. The viewer is expected to jump from one image to the next and experience it as a seamless development. To me, this experience of seamlessness seemed to correspond to the notion of unified character. As film viewers try to normalize time, so they also attempt to normalize character. No matter how inconsistent their actions are, actors are seen as portraying “beings” driven by some unifying “psychology.” The viewer’s job is to figure out what that is. In THE BANANA MAN, I was interested in this impulse toward unification. The tape is a series of scenes about one character, and it is up to the viewer to come to terms with what this character is. — Mike Kelley

As part of the program At Home with Mike Kelley, the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts and Electronic Arts Intermix present an online screening of THE BANANA MAN, followed by a live conversation with Cauleen Smith, Michael Smith, and Ying Liu, moderated by Mary Clare Stevens and Rebecca Cleman.

See link below for details.



Tuesday, July 14.

5 pm on the West Coast; 8 pm East Coast.

Mike Kelley, from top: Portrait of the artist as the Banana Man, circa 1983, photograph by Jim McHugh; studies for The Banana Man, 1981–1982 (3); The Banana Man (1983), still. Images courtesy and © the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.


This weekend, join Dagny Corcoran of Art Catalogues, Michaela Unterdörfer of Hauser & Wirth Publishers, artists Alexandra Grant and Paul McCarthy, writers Melissa Broder and Alissa Nutting, and poets Yesika Salgado and Vickie Vértiz—among many others—at LITLIT, the Little Literary Fair, at Hauser & Wirth in downtown Los Angeles.

The fair is presented by the Los Angeles Review of Books and Hauser & Wirth Publishers. See link below for special talks and events, and participating publishers, booksellers, and vendors.


Saturday and Sunday, July 20 and 21.

11 am through 6 pm.

Hauser & Wirth

901 East 3rd Street, downtown Los Angeles.

Top two images courtesy Hauser & Wirth; third from top courtesy Kaya Press, remaining images courtesy Art Catalogues (open book and “Grass Piece” page images from Lee Lozano, Not Working). Images © the artists and publishers.


“Toward the end of his career, Mike Kelley produced works that increasingly invoked elaborate webs of references and associations. His last two videos, VICE ANGLAIS and MADE IN ENGLAND, are no exception. Join us this week for a screening of these two works at Hauser & Wirth, when John Miller —the artist, musician, and author of Mike Kelley: Educational Complex—will lead a introduction and discussion and explore some of the allusions Kelley packed into these videos. He will situate them in the decadent/romantic literary tradition, examine their basis in the narrative of Dante Gabriel Rosetti, and consider the impact of the director Ken Russell on the stylization of Kelley’s late work.”*


MIKE KELLEY—VICE ANGLAIS and MADE IN ENGLAND, Thursday, December 14, at 7 pm.

MIKE KELLEY—KANDORS, through January 21.

HAUSER & WIRTH LOS ANGELES, 901 East 3rd Street, downtown Los Angeles.



Mike Kelley, Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais), 2011.

Art © Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph by Jennie Warren.



Huma Bhabha, Thomas E. Crow, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Sylvia Lavin, David Mather, Dan Nadel, John C. Welchman, and Mary Clare Stevens will be at Redcat this weekend for a day-long seminar on Mike Kelley’s KANDORS.


SYMPOSIUM ON MIKE KELLEY’S KANDORS, Saturday, November 18, from 10:30 am through 4 pm.

REDCAT, Disney Hall, Music Center, downtown Los Angeles.


MIKE KELLEY—KANDORS, through January 21, 2018.

HAUSER & WIRTH LOS ANGELES, 901 East 3rd Street, downtown Los Angeles.


All work by Mike Kelley. From top: 

City 17, 2011; Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude), 2011; Lenticular 7, 2007. Exhibition view.

Image credit: Hauser & Wirth. City 17 photograph by Fredrik Nilsen.

 City 17, 2011 Tinted urethane resin on illuminated base 213.4 x 41.9 (diam.) cm / 84 x 16 1/2 (diam.) in Photo: Fredrik Nilsen © Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. All Rights Reserved/Licensed by VAGA, New York NY



Lenticular 7, 2007 Lenticular panel, lightbox 180.3 x 126.4 x 8.9 cm / 71 x 49 3/4 x 3 1/2 in 2011-03-25-kandor


Mike Kelley’s last two major projects were his Kandors sculpture series, and the related Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction video series, parts of which revealed glimpses inside Krypton’s miniaturized capital city.

The remarkable new show at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, MIKE KELLEY—KANDORS 1999–2011, is, to date, the most complete view of Kandors exhibited in the United States. And this weekend, the gallery will screen Kelley’s DAY IS DONE—EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY PROJECTIVE RECONSTRUCTIONS #2–#32 (2005/2006), featuring original music by Kelley and Scott Benzel, and choreography by Kate Foley.


MIKE KELLEY—DAY IS DONE, Saturday, October 28, at 7 pm.

MIKE KELLEY—KANDORS 1999–2011, through January 21, 2018.

HAUSER & WIRTH, 901 East 3rd Street, downtown Los Angeles.


From top: Mike Kelley, Kandors, exhibition view; Kelley, production still from Day Is Done (2005/2006). Image credits: Hauser & Wirth, and © Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.