Mobile Homestead, one of Mike Kelleys last major projects, will be completed later this year in Detroit, the city where the artist spent the first two decades of his life.
Kelley grew up in a 1950s single-story ranch-style house in Westland in the suburbs of Detroit. Kelleys Mobile Homestead project is based on the construction of a full-size replica of the childhood home, relocated to the center of the city in a reversal of the white flight which accelerated after the 12th Street Riot of 1967.
Kelley had signed off on plans and a site for the project in late 2011 before his death in January 2012. The Trustees of the Mike Kelley Estate have now agreed with the commissioners of Mobile Homestead, the London-based arts organization Artangel, the LUMA Foundation and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
(MOCAD) that the project will be completed this year.
Kelley envisioned the ground floor of the homestead functioning as an open space for diverse community activities. At the same time, he designed a labyrinthine basement complex for more covert activities what he called private rites of an aesthetic nature. The completed Mobile Homestead will house these co-existing public and private functions mindful of Kelleys typically challenging contention that one always has to hide ones true desires and beliefs behind a façade of socially acceptable lies.
As stated by the Trustees of the Kelley Estate and Directors of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts: Mobile Homestead was deeply important to Mike during the last half decade. He committed significant time and resources to the project, which was all but completed at the time of his death. Mobile Homestead is the culmination of a significant body of work occasioned by Mikes memories and fantasies of his childhood and adolescence, emblematized by the exhibitions Educational Complex (1995) and Black Out (2001-02). But it reframes these interests by making startling new alliances with the genres of documentary and public art; and by undermining both with the promise of secret rituals envisioned for the basement zones of the homestead.
James Lingwood, Co-Director of Artangel: Mike had a conflicted relationship to lots of situations not least his native city of Detroit. Mobile Homestead was conceived to embody this in a characteristically complex and challenging way. It will be a living legacy to a great American artist located in the city he could never really leave.
Marsha Miro, President of the Board of MOCAD: Mobile Homestead is a great gift from Mike Kelley to Detroit. As steward of the project, MOCAD is committed to using the Homestead as Mike wanted, as an ongoing, open-ended work. Different community groups will use the place in different ways some very public and others very private.
The first stage of the project a mobile home conceived to travel around the city and dispense various kinds of socially useful services was unveiled in the fall of 2010. Mobile Homesteads maiden voyage from downtown Detroit to visit the mother ship, the original Kelley home in the suburbs is part of Kelleys final video work, filmed in 2010 and completed just before the artist died. The trilogy of documentary films premiere at the Whitney Biennial in New York on May 15 2012.
Mike Kelley wrote about Mobile Homestead back in 2008: This project blatantly makes a distinction between public art and private art, between the notions that art functions for the social good, and that art addresses personal desires and pleasure. Mobile Homestead does both; it is simultaneously geared toward community service and anti-social private sub-cultural activities. It has a public side, and a secret side.