Friday, December 5, 1986
Artists Space is pleased to present the premiere, and one night only, presentation of a new performance by Mike Kelley entitled Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile. This performance is the first-time collaboration between Mike Kelley and Sonic Youth and will include Molly Cleater and Adam Rudolf. Kelley has not performed in New York since 1980.
Kelley’s work combines burlesque, philosophy, juvenile pranks and perverse eroticism in a dizzying web of associations. “I’ve come all the way from California to tell you something. It’s time to topple some idols. Take a good thing when it comes and quit trying to reciprocate,” Kelley whines in the first lines of Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile. “Life. Ugh. The bounty. Ugh. Fruitfulness…” Here expressionist theater is stood on its head while remaining the butt of a joke that never quite unravels. The audience is caught in the middle, between straight man and stooge, not knowing who to believe, yet believing with intensity, if only for a moment. Underneath the manic speeches and exaggerated gestures, once can sense a formalism at work. The meanings, emotions or affects produced are only elements in an equation which cancel each other out either through mutual exclusion or pure difference. If it is burlesque, it is intelligent burlesque that takes its perversity seriously.