Kelley has made nostalgia, memory, and repression in everyday life the topics of his idiosyncratic
sculptures, performances, paintings, and installations, which conflate vernacular sources and high
modernist aesthetics. A veteran of the Los Angeles conceptual art scene, Kelley uses deconstructive
strategies in order to challenge the established norms of contemporary culture, both high and low.
In the current exhibition, Kelley expands on previous major projects—the Kandor series and
Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction (EAPR) – combining them into one. In doing so, he
breaks with his own artistic conventions, enjoying both the coherences and contradictions produced.
The exhibition also includes other sculptures that utilize residual elements from the making of the
Kandors as well as domestic objects, from ceramic figurines to coffee pots, which provide moments
of humor and charm throughout the installation.
The Kandors, begun in 1999, are representations of Superman’s city of birth, the only remaining part
of his home planet, Krypton. In the well-known comic books, Superman saved the miniaturized city in
a bottle fed by a tank of atmosphere. Kandor’s depiction in these narratives is inconsistent and
fragmentary, prompting Kelley to create multiple versions of it, cast in colorful resins and illuminated
like reliquaries. Kandor 10, a yellow city housed in a hand-blown, pink glass bottle, is a grouping of
tall skyscrapers situated within a full-scale rock grotto; Kandor 12, constructed in off-white resin and
evocative of a group of chess pawns, or minarets, is encased in a shadowy brown bottle, which sits
on a platform resembling a Greek column positioned in front of a chest of drawers and an illuminated
translucent green wall.
The EAPR video series – first shown as the exhibition “Day Is Done” at Gagosian, New York in 2006
– stems from photographs of what Kelley calls “folk performances”—common, often carnivalesque,
activities documented in school yearbooks, local newspapers, or home snapshots. The two videos
comprising EAPR #34 are based on an image of what appeared to be an amateur stage play,
featuring a “royal” male character with his female harem. In one of them, a “King” lords over his
harem. In the other, a group of “Queens” demean a male servant. EAPR #35 features a cast of
gnome-like characters who shamble around aimlessly in a cell. The videos are presented with the
sets in which they were shot. Kelley has described the EAPR videos as defensive shields against the
gaps or “repressed trauma” in his Educational Complex (1995), a model of his childhood home and
every school he ever attended, merged into one structure.