Past exhibition

Mike Kelley
Haus Esters, Haus Lange

Opening: 13 March 2011, 11:30 a.m., Museum Haus Lange

For a good thirty years U.S. American concept artist Mike Kelley (*1954 Detroit, Michigan, USA) has produced works that present a surprising and provocative analysis of society's handed-down norms and values. On top of which Kelley, who works across the genres, has always placed memories, repression and buried childhood traumas at the centre of his subversive stagings.

The Kandor cycle, which consists of a large number of individual works largely created in 2007, is based in name and content on the fictional birthplace of the comic legend Superman. In the Superman saga, the superhero escapes to earth from the destruction of his home planet, Krypton, but manages to rescue the city of Kandor as its last remaining vestige - albeit in miniature form, which he keeps under a bell jar in his “Fortress of Solitude”. Mike Kelley's Kandor series of sculptures, videos and light boxes revolves around this city. They present cityscapes and silhouettes that all relate directly to the illustrations in the Superman comics. The ever-changing appearance of the self-same city is due to the astonishing fact that the appearance of Kandor was never standardised in the comic. As a constantly maintained relict from Superman's childhood that was forever given a new design, Kandor became an instrument for Kelley to track down the abysses and traumas of memory.

Kelley first focused his attention on the Kandor theme for the exhibition Zeitwenden at Kunstmuseum Bonn in 2000. Kelley planned Kandor-Con, as was the title, as an interactive project with its own Internet platform; it was meant to depict the “contradictonary essence of the city by presenting it as an animated 'pulsation'” (Kelley). Kelley's Kandor-Project from 2007, that is still expanding, has bidden farewell to a total reconstruction of the city and concentrates instead on formal aspects of the Kandor bottles and on the translation of two-dimensional graphic images into three-dimensional sculptures. Flat areas of background colour in the comic panels have been rendered as glowing Plexiglas walls. Kandor in all its variations has been done as under-lit synthetic resin sculptures in a medley of colours. The original comic images were altered graphically and then constructed as 3-D light boxes. By these means Kelley not only lends form to the fictive city, but also a present: he frees this model of both city and society from the paradoxical state of being in a future past.

Alongside the nine Kandor sculptures that will be on show in Museums Haus Lange and Haus Esters, Kelley will also present his four Crystal Rocks video installations, the seven Lenticulars (3-D light box pictures), and four video animations. The works combine to form an enigmatic multi-medial event that transforms the exhibition spaces into a magical laboratory with a socio-cultural context - like some kind of industrialised homunculus chamber in which worlds, not people, are created in test tubes.

with a text by Mike Kelley, 84 pages, English / German insert, Hirmer Verlag, Munich, retail: 39.80 euros, museum edition: 28 euros