Mike Kelley at Bourse de commerce, Paris.
Mike Kelley (1954-2012) worked in the genre of performance, taking his inspiration from militant feminist practices to put forward an innovative approach to artmaking that overturned the canon. He was a member of various music bands throughout his life. His most famous works include darkly humorous hand-made sculptures and installations made from stuffed animals that highlight the gender and consumer conditioning we undergo at the youngest age.
Mike Kelley’s Kandor series takes its name from the capital city of the fictional planet Krypton, where Superman was born. According to the Superman legend, the super villain Brainiac shrunk and bottled the city of Kandor in a bell-jar-like container, stealing it just before Krypton’s explosive demise. When Brainiac came to Earth looking to harvest more cities, Superman wrested the miniature city away from him, and stored it safely in his secret hideaway, the Fortress of Solitude. As Kelley once explained, the shrunken city “functions as a constant reminder of Superman’s past,” as well as “a metaphor for his alienated relationship to the planet he now occupies.”