The Mike Kelley show at MOCA Geffen has a whole lot of everything going on: child nightmare videos, weird banners, scary stuffed animal sculptures, night-light installations of the fictional Kandor, and architectural models of every school Kelly ever went to. There’s also his “Chinatown Wishing Well,” above, his tribute, to a similarly garish fountain located in L.A.’s Chinatown.
It’s a lot to absorb. But while you’re at it, don’t forget to take a peek under and inside many of his pieces, since they often seem to contain little surprises. Under the architectural models, you’ll find a mattress; a pink dresser hides books about sex and a packet of birth control pills; and inside the “Wishing Well” is a mattress, a box of Kleenex, some candles and tub of Vaseline. (This latter space he once described as a “crawl space/fuck room.”)
All of it certainly gets at aspects of the forbidden he often explored in his work. But they also serve as a reminder that if you’re just looking at the literal surface of his pieces, you’re missing a good chunk of the story.