The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts and REDCAT, CalArts’ downtown center for contemporary arts, co-present the first-ever symposium focusing on the last major project of renowned artist Mike Kelley (1954-2012): Kandors on Saturday, November 18, 2017, 10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Tickets are FREE with a reservation. An option with lunch is also available for purchase.
Tickets and more info are here: https://www.redcat.org/event/symposium-mike-kelleys-kandors


This event ties-in with the first comprehensive survey of the Kandors series and associated works on view at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles. Featuring noted scholars, curators, and artists; the symposium encourages dialogue and debate about this important body of work and its themes while connecting them to wider aspects of Kelley’s complex and varied oeuvre.

In the late 1990s, Kelley was invited to be part of a group exhibition in Germany, which focused on the impending millennium by exhibiting contemporary art and historical objects with a special emphasis on the “new media” of the past. As the artist wrote in his essay for a catalogue about the project, “in response to these themes, I decided to create a project that centered on an out-of-date image of the future re-presented through recent technological developments. I chose to focus on the fictional city of Kandor from the Superman comics series.”


Examining the extensive archive he amassed of different depictions of Kandors in Superman comics, Kelley was struck by the abundant, sometimes flagrant, inconsistencies. He chose twenty diverse examples from the myriad two-dimensional renderings of the sci-fi city in order to create three-dimensional Kandors sculptures and variant works including videos, animations, and large-scale installations between 2007 and 2011. In these works, he explores the formal properties of translucency and reflection by casting the Kandors in colored resin, setting them in tinted glass bottles, and illuminating them like reliquaries within specifically designed settings. Later works in the series integrate the Kandors with Kelley’s Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstructive series, commenced around the same time at the turn of the 21st century.


“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. The Foundation is delighted to bring together a group of outstanding and original thinkers to explore the series in-depth—from its conceptual underpinnings to its technical and formal brilliance—as part of our ongoing mission to foster Kelley’s legacy and a deeper understanding of his life and work,” says Mary Clare Stevens, Executive Director of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

The symposium examines aspects of the series such as such as light, color and scintillation; fantastic architecture; Kelley’s relationship to popular culture and his appropriation and repurposing of the history and mythos of Superman from the well-known DC Comics series.

It hosts presentations and discussions featuring art historian David Mather, architecture historian, critic and curator, Sylvia Lavin; writer and curator Dan Nadel, artists Huma Bhabha and Trenton Doyle Hancock; and art historian and art critic, Thomas E. Crow. Art historian and Chair of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts Board of Directors, John C. Welchman, will lead off the symposium with an introduction of the Kandors series in relation to Kelley’s practice.

The event is organized in two parts, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and concluding at 4 p.m. The morning session includes welcome remarks from Executive Director Mary Clare Stevens, an introduction by John C. Welchman, followed by 45-minute presentations by Sylvia Lavin and David Mather, who will discuss the key chromatic considerations central to two-and three-dimensional works in the series, as well as Kelley’s remarkable challenge to traditional approaches to the psychological effects of color.

The afternoon session begins at 2:15 p.m. with a 45-minute panel moderated by Dan Nadel with artists, Huma Bhabha and Trenton Doyle Hancock about the allure and power of the Superman mythos, and how the artists have used the languages and iconography of superheroes and science fiction in relation to ideas about memory, identity, trauma, violence, and domesticity in their own work. Thomas E. Crow will conclude the event by examining the continuity of the Kandors project with some of Mike Kelley’s earliest enthusiasms and points of reference, such as Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra.

Ticket information and schedule: Tickets to the event are free and can be reserved at [REDCAT online link]. A schedule for the day is also available online.

The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts furthers Kelley’s philanthropic work through grants to innovative art projects that reflect his multifaceted artistic practice. The Foundation also promotes the artist’s legacy more broadly and advances the understanding of his life and creative achievements through loans from its collection, exhibitions, collaborations and programs such as the Kandors symposium.

The Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) is an interdisciplinary contemporary arts center for innovative visual, performing and media arts located in downtown Los Angeles inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. Each season REDCAT presents a far-reaching roster of work by globally renowned artists, inside one of the most versatile and technologically advanced presentation spaces in the world.

Through performances, exhibitions, screenings, and literary events, REDCAT introduces diverse audiences, students, and artists to the most influential developments in the arts from around the world, and gives artists in this region the creative support they need to achieve national and international stature. REDCAT continues the tradition of the California Institute of the Arts, its parent organization, by encouraging experimentation, discovery and lively civic discourse.

Organized by Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts with support from REDCAT and Hauser & Wirth Gallery.

Tickets are FREE with a reservation. An option with lunch is also available for purchase.
Tickets and more info are here: https://www.redcat.org