Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: Texte zur Kunst

Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974–81

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

John Divola, Zuma #9 (1978/2006)

Events sometimes tell their own story. 1974: Richard Nixon resigns; Patty Hearst is kidnapped by left-wing terrorists; the U.S. oil crisis continues. 1975: Saigon falls; Gerald Ford survives two assassination attempts, both in California. 1976: Chairman Mao dies. 1977: Elvis Presley dies; Jimmy Carter is sworn in. 1978: Californian cult, the Peoples Temple, commits mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana; Harvey Milk and George Moscone are shot in San Francisco; Proposition 13, limiting Californian property taxation, is passed. 1979: Three Mile Island nuclear disaster; the U.S. embassy in Tehran is seized; revolution in Nicaragua; Soviet Union invades Afghanistan, reigniting the Cold War. 1980: the U.S. and other countries boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow; John Lennon is murdered. 1981: assassination attempt on the Pope; Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated; AIDS is identified; Ronald Reagan is sworn in as president. Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Kelley

Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills

Kandor 18 B (2010), photograph: Fredrik Nilsen

‘Portrait of the Artist as Superhero’

In 2000, Mike Kelley made a film titled Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (Domestic Scene). It was the first of a series of works that reanimated photographs of carnivalesque performances he found in high school yearbooks such as plays or fancy dress days; he saw them, he said, as ‘rituals of deviance’.[i] Some were simply photographs; others comprised installations, video performances and original music. In 2005, he presented the series in his acclaimed exhibition ‘Day is Done’ at Gagosian Gallery in New York. (Matthew Higgs breathlessly suggested at the time that it was ‘the best show ever’.[ii])

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