A man in a hat looking straight at the camera
Mike Kelley, The Banana Man, 1983

As a tribute to the influential American artist, Mike Kelley (1954-2012), Tate Modern hosts a two-day survey of videos by and with Kelley, to coincide with the opening of a new display in the Poetry and Dream collection wing, featuring Kelley’s 1994 installation Channel One, Channel Two and Channel Three and documentation of his early performance works.

Kelley’s art is rooted in abjection, ritual and cunning ambiguity. It lays bare mechanisms of representation and communication, revealing cultural blind spots through the use of vernacular language and imagery, particularly drawing on American crafts and subcultures. His layered imagery, hijacked from sources as diverse as folk and outsider art, DIY manuals, comics, genre fiction, spiritualism, Ufology, pop psychology, punk, glam and psychedelia, is fused together through the use of a broad range of media, including drawing, performance, video, photography, painting, sculpture, sound, installation and writing. These elements are never simply appropriated, nor dissected in the manner of detached social commentary. From his early paintings and performances made while a student at CalArts to increasingly complex sculptures and multimedia installations, Kelley’s work confronts the viewer with unexpected associations and sabotages expectations, often to tragicomic effect.

This attitude is also evident in his video works, from the early The Banana Man (1983), where Kelley poses as the character of a kids’ TV show he has never seen, to the epic Day is Done (2005-06), a stage musical entirely derived from photographs of costumed people found in high school yearbooks and originally planned to have a running time of 24 hours.

The programme equally demonstrates Kelley’s penchant for collaboration, through the inclusion of videos made together with Ericka Beckmann, Tony Conrad, Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose, Paul McCarthy, Tony Oursler, Anita Pace, Raymond Pettibon, Michael Smith, Bruce and Norman Yonemoto, and Cary Loren, founding member with Kelley of Detroit’s seminal noise band Destroy All Monsters.

With thanks to the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) and Cary Loren.

Friday 31 August, 12.00–21.00

  • Mike Kelley, Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais), 2011, 25:14 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley, Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36b (Made in England), 2011, 27:58 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley, The Judson Church Horse Dance, 2011, 70 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley and Michael Smith, A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, 2010, 1 hr 30 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley, Day Is Done, 2005–2006, 2 hr 49 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley, The Bridge Visitor (Legend-Trip), 2004, 17:53 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley, Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (Domestic Scene), 2000, 29:44 min, b&w, sound
  • Mike Kelley, Runway for Interactive DJ Event, 2000, 48:23 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley, Superman Recites Selections from ‘The Bell Jar’ and Other Works by Sylvia Plath, 1999, 7:19 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Sod and Sodie Sock (Vienna Cut), 1999, 17:38 min, colour, sound

Saturday 1 September, 12.00–22.00

  • Mike Kelley, Cross Gender/Cross Genre (Parts 1 and 2), 1999, 1 hr 59:06 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Out O’ Actions, 1998, 4:25 min, colour, sound
  • Cary Loren with Destroy All Monsters, Strange Früt, 1998, 1 hr, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Fresh Acconci, 1995, 45 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler and Anita Pace, Pole Dance, 1997, 1997, 31:18 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Heidi, 1992, 62:40 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Heidi’s Four Basket Dances, 1992/2001, 15 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley, Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose, 100 Reasons, 1991, 6:41 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley and Ericka Beckman, Blind Country, 1989, 19:57 min, colour, sound
  • Raymond Pettibon, Sir Drone, 1989, 55:37 min, colour, sound (feat. Mike Kelley and Mike Watt)
  • Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Family Tyranny (Modeling and Molding), 1987, 8:08 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Cultural Soup, 1987, 6:55 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley and Bruce and Norman Yonemoto, Kappa, 1986, 26 min, colour, sound
  • Tony Oursler, EVOL, 1984, 28:58 min, colour, sound (feat. Mike Kelley)
  • Tony Conrad with Mike Kelley, Beholden to Victory, 1980–83, 26 min, colour, sound
  • Mike Kelley, The Banana Man, 1983, 28:15 min, colour, sound

Part of the series: The Tanks: Art in Action