REDCAT, CalArts’ downtown center for contemporary arts, in partnership with the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, will present the first-ever symposium on “Kandors,” the last major project of renowned Los Angeles artist and CalArts alumnus Mike Kelley (Art MFA 78) on Saturday, November 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The symposium comes one month after the opening of “Mike Kelley: Kandors 1999-2011” — the first comprehensive survey of the “Kandors” series and the first exhibition of the works in the late artist’s hometown — at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles. The exhibit runs there through January 21.
Started by Kelley in 1999, the “Kandors” series encompasses a sprawling number of sculptures, videos, animations and large-scale installations all representing the city of Kandor, Superman’s birthplace.
Reworking the imagery and mythology of the superhero in a meditation on loss, power and memory, Kelley described the series as “an out-of-date image of the future re-presented through recent technological developments.”
Writing about the exhibition in the Los Angeles Times, Art Critic Christopher Knight said, “What’s exceptional about Kelley’s large suite of works derived from (‘Superman’), currently on abundant and essential display at Hauser & Wirth, is how he treated what would generally be considered negligible, throwaway subject with sincerity and discernment.”
“The Kandors project, which occupied over 10 years of Kelley’s artistic production, is a profoundly imaginative body of work that transports and challenges viewers simultaneously,” said Mary Clare Stevens, executive director of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts and the artist’s longtime studio manager, who will deliver the symposium’s welcome remarks.
Featuring noted scholars, curators and artists, the symposium seeks to encourage dialogue and debate about the work and its themes while connecting them to wider aspects of Kelley’s complex, varied and important oeuvre.
Running from 10:30 am-4 pm, the day includes sessions on the “Kandors’” light and color, fantastical architecture, relationship to popular culture, science fiction iconography, musical influences and more.
The symposium is free to attend with RSVP.
Born in Detroit in 1954, Kelley is widely considered one of the most influential artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Described by The New York Times as “a pungent commentator on American class, popular culture, and youthful rebellion,” his work – comprising a vast array of media – started gaining attention in the mid-1980s and earned him numerous prestigious awards and inclusion in museum collections around the world.
During his time at CalArts, he studied with artists John Baldessari, Laurie Anderson and Douglas Huebler.
He passed away in 2012 at the age of 57.
REDCAT is located at 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles 90012.
Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles is located at 901 East 3st Street, Los Angeles 90013.
– Katie Dunham