Tim Barnes

'These fragments I have shored against my ruins' T.S.Eliot, The Waste Land.

Mike Kelley's notion of public sculpture gathers no dust. Different voices, each as valid as the next populate the roadsides along Michigan Avenue where the 'Mobile Homestead' cruises. This full-scale façade, a replica of the Kelley family home, slices straight through the cultural stuff of his hometown Detroit, currently suffering severe urban decay and ongoing economic decline.

Through compassionately observing and interviewing, Kelley salvages the scattering fragments of Detroit's culture, harvesting the bits and pieces of heritage, ideas, traditions and values upheld by its local people, businesses and subcultures. Going West on Michigan Avenue from Downtown Detroit to Westland and Going East on Michigan Avenue from Westland to Downtown Detroit, both work to bring these individuals all together and perhaps perform a social purpose for the inhabitants, uniting each story into a well-balanced dynamic whole that in the face of such widespread trauma is extraordinarily illuminating and optimistic.

Site Gallery is able to offer a unique insight, elaborating further on the discourse surrounding this project. Listening to Laura Sillars in conversation with Mike Kelley, Los Angeles, 2010, allows visitors to contextualise these videos more fully, intriguing new aspects are revealed as Kelley recalls his childhood and early fascination with Detroit's underground subcultures. This level of in-depth and critical analysis is rarely made accessible to the public.

A third video, 'Mobile Homestead Christening Ceremony and Launch, 25 September 2010', documents the mobile home's maiden voyage. Architectural plans show the entire replica house with the addition of a two-storey basement complex. Now situated in the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, it opened to the public in May 2013.

An illustrated map of Michigan Avenue geographically documents each interview stop along the journey, while opposite, John Sinclair's compelling poem 'blues for tomorrow' is a warming read and brings to mind the human affects of urban degeneration pertinent to Kelley's crusade.

Mobile Homestead Videos is an exhibition in collaboration with Artangel. Site Gallery exhibits three videos by Mike Kelley (1954 – 2012), recognised as one of America's most influential artists of the last 25 years.


DigYorkshire Review