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Educational Complex | John Miller, Johanna Fateman, Nicolás Guagnini, Piper Marshall, Howard Singerman | An Art Book Series Event


FREE - Auditorium doors open at 5:30 p.m.

In a video clip, featured on the Whitney Museum of American Art’s website, Mike Kelley gives a capsule description of Educational Complex, one of his most complex works:

"I decided to build a reconstruction of every school I ever went to with all the parts I could not remember left out. And then these were combined to one super school. They were cut apart and reconfigured, in a kind of very formalized way that made it look more like a kind of modernist architecture….
Educational Complex was done directly in response to the rising infatuation of the public with issues of Repressed Memory Syndrome and child abuse…. The implication is that anything that can’t be remembered is somehow the result of trauma.

So the parts I could not remember of these buildings were the majority of them, probably like 80 percent. So that meant 80 percent of these buildings that I had been in for most of my life were the site [sic] of some kind of repressed trauma. "

This seemingly facetious approach proves to be deceptive; the work exceeds a simple parody. Through his avowed inability to remember, Mike Kelley ultimately implicates a Benjaminian dialectic: that there is no document of civilization that is not at the same time a document of barbarism.  The emergent controversy concerning rape in U.S. colleges and universities is only one of the most recent examples.  With Educational Complex, Kelley challenges his audience to understand esthetics – and esthetic education – vis-à-vis realpolitik.

Together with Johanna Fateman, Howard Singerman, Piper Marshall and Nic Guagnini, John Miller considers whether this can be done and, if so, one what terms.

A ‘complex’ can be an architectural configuration, a psychological syndrome or a political apparatus.

In Mike Kelley: Educational Complex, John Miller approaches educational complex through corresponding lines of enquiry, considering the representation of Kelley’s schools (and his childhood home) as architectural models; popular fantasies associated with false memory syndrome; and the liberal democratic premises underpinning education.

During his lifetime, Mike Kelley worked with a wide range of media, exploring themes as varied as grassroots politics, religious systems and social class. Miller shows that in Educational Complex, Kelley expands this political and aesthetic focus to test the ideological horizon of art as an institution.

This title is part of the One Work book series, which focuses on the artworks that have significantly shaped the way we understand art and its history.

Copies of Mike Kelley: Educational Complex (Afterall 2015) are available for purchase and signing at the end of event.

Mike Kelley, Overhead detail of the model of St. Mary School from Educational Complex, 1995. © Mike Kelley   Foundation for the Arts. All rights reserved.
Mike Kelley, Studio view of Educational Complex, 1995, with the dome of John Glenn High School in foreground. All Kelley works © Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.  All Rights Reserved/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

John Miller is an artist, writer and musician based in New York and Berlin. In 2011 Miller received the Wolfgang Hahn Prize from the Society for Contemporary Art at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. Miller’s other books include The Ruin of Exchange: Selected Writings and The Price Club: Selected Writings (1977-1998), both published by JRP-Ringier and the Consortium as part of their Positions series.  Miller is also a Professor of Professional Practice in Barnard College’s Art History Department. He is represented by Metro Pictures in New York and several other galleries abroad.

Johanna Fateman is a musician, writer, and co-owner of Seagull Salon in New York City. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Art in America, Artforum, Bookforum, Apology, and The New Inquiry. She is currently working on a book about radical-feminist author Andrea Dworkin.

Nicolás Guagnini (1966, Buenos Aires, Argentina) has lived and worked in New York since 1998.  Recent solo exhibitions include Bortolami Gallery, New York;  Heads, Lars Freidrich Gallery, Berlin; andNicolás Guagnini: Seven, Miguel Abreu Gallery and Balice Hertling & Lewis, New York. Recent group exhibitions include Bad Conscience, Metro Pictures, New York;140 Characters, Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo; and Descartes’ Daughter, Swiss Institute, New York. From 1997 through 2010, together with Karin Schneider, Guagnini produced films under the moniker Union Guacha Productions. Their works have been screened in numerous institutions, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Guagnini was a founding member of the cooperative gallery Orchard,  A prolific writer, Guagnini’s texts have appeared in publications such as October and Artforum, as well as numerous books.

 Timeless/Authorless, 1995, Educational Complex, 1995 and Horizontal Tracking Shot of a Cross Section of Trauma Rooms, 2009, in ‘Mike Kelley’ at The Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles, 2014 © Mike Kelley Foundation for the Ar
Mike Kelley, from left to right:
Timeless/Authorless, 1995, Educational Complex, 1995 and Horizontal Tracking Shot of a Cross Section of Trauma Rooms, 2009, in ‘Mike Kelley’ at
The Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles, 2014.
All Kelley works © Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.  All Rights Reserved/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Piper Marshall is  an independent curator and writer based in New York City. She is a second year PhD student in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. In 2015, Marshall curated six monographic exhibitions for Mary Boone Gallery, New York working with artists Ryan McNamara, John Miller, Caitlin Keogh, Ericka Beckman, Judith Bernstein, and Angela Bulloch. Formerly curator at the Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art New York, she organized the group exhibition Descartes' Daughter, and edited the accompanying exhibition reader. Marshall writes for periodicals including Texte Zur Kunst, Art in America, Kaleidoscope , Spike, The Third Rail and Her other notable projects include The Body As Techno-Base, an ongoing collaborative research project with artist Rochelle Goldberg.

Howard Singerman first published on the work of Mike Kelley in 1979 and has written often on Kelley's work over the past three decades.  He is the author of Art Subjects: Making Artists in the American University (1999) and Art History, after Sherrie Levine (2012). He is Phyllis and Josef Caroff Professor of Fine Art and chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

In its eighth year the program series An Art Book, initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni, is a celebration of the essential importance and beauty of art books. The events showcase book presentations and discussions by world renowned artists, critics, curators, gallerists, historians and writers.

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