Going East on Michigan Avenue from Westland to Downtown Detroit, 2010–11
HD video, color, sound; 76:17 min.
Mobile Homestead, one of Mike Kelley's last major projects, will be completed later this year in Detroit, the city where the artist spent the first two decades of his life.
Mike Kelley grew up in a 1950s single-story ranch-style house in Westland in the suburbs of Detroit. Kelley’s Mobile Homestead project is based on the construction of a full-size replica of the childhood home, relocated to the center of the city in a reversal of the ‘white flight’ which accelerated after the ‘12th Street’ Riot of 1967.
Plans and a site for the project had been signed off by Kelley in late 2011 before his death in January 2012. He envisaged the ground floor of the homestead functioning as an open space for diverse community activities. At the same time, he designed a labyrinthine basement complex for more covert activities – what he called “private rites of an aesthetic nature.” The completed Mobile Homestead will house these co-existing public and private functions mindful of Kelley’s typically challenging contention that “one always has to hide one’s true desires and beliefs behind a façade of socially acceptable lies.”
The Trustees of the Kelley Estate and Directors of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts: “Mobile Homestead was deeply important to Mike during the last half decade. He committed significant time and resources to the project, which was all but completed at the time of his death. Mobile Homestead is the culmination of a significant body of work occasioned by Mike’s memories – and fantasies – of his childhood and adolescence, emblematized by the exhibitions Educational Complex (1995) and Black Out (2001-02). But it reframes these interests by making startling new alliances with the genres of documentary and public art; and by undermining both with the promise of secret rituals envisioned for the basement zones of the homestead."
The first stage of the project – a mobile home conceived to travel around the city and dispense various kinds of socially useful services – was ‘unveiled’ in the fall of 2010. Mobile Homestead’'s maiden voyage from downtown Detroit to visit the ‘mother ship’, the original Kelley home in the suburbs is part of Kelley’s final video work, was filmed in 2010 and completed just before the artist died. The trilogy of documentary films premiered at the Whitney Biennial in New York on May 15 2012.
Mike Kelley wrote about Mobile Homestead back in 2008: “This project blatantly makes a distinction between public art and private art, between the notions that art functions for the social good, and that art addresses personal desires and pleasure. Mobile Homestead does both; it is simultaneously geared toward community service and anti-social private sub-cultural activities. It has a public side, and a secret side.”
Marsha Miro, President of the Board of MOCAD said: “Mobile Homestead is a great gift from Mike Kelley to Detroit. As steward of the project, MOCAD is committed to using the Homestead as Mike wanted, as an ongoing, open-ended work. Different community groups will use the place in different ways – some very public and others very private.”
An Artangel Commission with LUMA Foundation and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). This project was made possible with the support of the Artangel International Circle.
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