Mike Kelley. The Architecture of Memory

Lecture by Laura López Paniagua
April 26th, 2016

American artist Mike Kelley (1954, Wayne, MI – 2012, South Pasadena, CA) started to gain visibility in the 1980s with his stuffed animal works, his iconic design for the cover of Sonic Youth’s album »Dirty« (1992), and for his »Arena« series (1990). However, it was from 1995 onwards that he embarked on the most ambitious projects of his career, following in the artistic tradition of the Gesamtkunstwerk. Using architecture as an element charged with symbolic meaning, he explored the construction of contemporary memory in an attempt to represent the foundational myths of our time, termed by Kelley as Victim Culture.

Through the analysis of pieces such as »Educational Complex« (1995), »Kandors« (2007), or »Mobile Homestead« (2013), this lecture will shed light upon the motivations of the artist and outline the conceptual continuity among the major works in which he deals with the topic of memory through fantasy architectures.

Artist and researcher Laura López Paniagua has completed a PhD study on Mike Kelley in 2014, in a joint project between the Universidad Complutense (Madrid) and the Freie Universität (Berlin). Her research work has received support from institutions such as DAAD, Mutua Madrileña, Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture, and ARCO Forum of Experts in Contemporary Art. She has worked with several university programs as guest faculty and collaborator in Spain (UCM) and Germany (FU Berlin, Leuphana Universität Lüneburg). As an artist, her work has been part of international events such as Club Transmediale, Berlin (2012), and has been shown at venues like Werkstatt Galerie, Berlin (2014), DH Artworks, Düsseldorf (2013, 2012), Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2012), Kölner Filmhaus, Köln (2011), Institut Français, Madrid (2008), Galería Esquina, Madrid (2011), Fundación Caja España (2006) and Fundación Antonio Pérez (2006). She has received visual arts prizes from different institutions, a.o. Caja España (2008), Diario de León (2007), and Injuve (2001 and 2002). She has also collaborated with diverse art publications, a.o. Text Revue and Entelequia Revista Cultural and is co-author of the album »Monitocadaver« (2006).