LOS ANGELES, CA.- West of Rome Public Art
presents A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, an immersive art experience created by artists Mike Kelley and Michael Smith. This exhibition marks the first Los Angeles exhibition for both artists in nearly a decade; Kelley has not been the subject of a solo exhibition in Los Angeles since 2001, and Smiths work last appeared in the group exhibition Out of Action in 1998. A Voyage of Growth and Discovery is a mixed-media work that includes a multi-channel video, a 30-foot sculpture, and a sound installation. Presented in the Farley Building, which has served as Mike Kelleys studio since 2008, viewers have the unique opportunity to enter into the artists studio and view the work in a location that is traditionally off limits to the public.
The two-and-a-half hour, six-channel video component of A Voyage of Growth and Discovery follows the existential journey of Baby Ikki, a character conceived and portrayed by Michael Smith, as he wanders through an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in Nevada's remote Black Rock Desert. The installation evokes the festival's fantasy-like environment, which is both folksy and granda mixture of fairground, playground, hippie commune, and the futuristic architectural aesthetic of R. Buckminster Fuller.
A Voyage of Growth and Discovery is being exhibited in the same studio space where it was first conceived and developed. By opening the studio to the public, West of Rome calls into question the traditional division between the artist's public and private spheres: the studio, which is normally reserved as a secluded, private space, is now turned inside out as it becomes the official site of public presentation.
Bringing the visitors to the Farley Building, where the studio is located, serves as yet another occasion for West of Rome to highlight a part of the city outside the art-world's usual path, making the installation highly interesting in terms of both its history and its present state. Ethnic diversity and a large population of creative professionals have long characterized the neighborhood of Eagle Rock, which only in recent years has seen a dramatic process of gentrification. Tucked in the hills of North-East Los Angeles, the Farley Building, once served as a self-storage facility, is a typical construction of the local landscape.
A Voyage of Growth and Discovery is a collaborative project by Mike Kelley and Michael Smith. It was curated by Emi Fontana, and co-produced by West of Rome Public Art and the SculptureCenter (Long Island City, NY), where it premiered in Fall 2009.