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Mike Kelley: bathos, abjection, quotidian

By Douglas Haynes


Mike Kelley's varied art is very much on the abject side of avant-garde. My essay reads some of his works, especially those associated with kitsch soft toys and craft economy alongside Hegel's account of the unhappy consciousness. Kelley's intention, I suggest, is to invoke Freud's uncanny maintaining that any representation of human form, no matter how debased, invites projection and empathy. It is thus capable of overcoming the mastering view that one ordinarily has of cultural production - the self figured as the expert reader, the critic, etc. Hence, through a kind of affect, it reminds consciousness of its contingent, object side, a process mediating a relation to culture more generally. Ultimately Kelley suggests an unhappy consciousness for art itself, unable to transcend nor change life

Topics: BD010, BF0173, N1, NB
Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Year: 2013
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