The Mike Kelley show at PS1, up through February 2, is a big show. As Holland Cotter notes in his New York Times review, it easily fills all four floors at MoMA’s Queens outpost. Over a long and prolific career Kelley, who committed suicide in 2012, produced work more united by the thematic of Americana kitsch pop culture attacked with wierdness and dark humor in a colorful, uneasy aesthetic unrestrained by medium. All of which promises a fun viewing experience, yet my own felt uneasy, claustrophobic.
Kelley’s uncharacteristically glossy later works called the Kandor Project begin the exhibition, which examine Superman’s birthplace and which Kelly recreated in sculpture after sculpture. These sleek and fancy forms obsessively explore childhood interests, and were quite appealing even if the glut of them left me feeling the theme had been exhausted.
While I found some of it amusing, like the video pieces above, the pop culture manipulations really didn’t move me for the most part. That said, there were some great works in the show, like the massive installation of Day Is Done, an unfinished multichannel video and performance piece. It presents Kelley’s work at its best: overwhelming, disorienting, and disturbing.