In 2005, Mike Kelley (1954–2012) developed a site-specific public art project with the London-based organization Artangel: a replica of Kelley’s childhood home on Palmer Road in the Detroit suburb of Westland. Kelley envisioned the space as a community gallery that would live on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (MOCAD), along with a removable white clapboard façade that could be dispatched and provide a host of services to the area. In 2010, the mobile section traveled from downtown Detroit to Westland and back, as Kelley documented the neighborhoods dotting the main thoroughfare, Michigan Avenue.
In conjunction with the Mike Kelley retrospective at MoMA PS1, this weeklong presentation is a compilation of Going West on Michigan Avenue from Westland to Downtown Detroit and Going East on Michigan Avenue from Downtown Detroit to Westland. Kelley’s interviews illustrate the socioeconomic and cultural diversity in the Detroit area as residents, business owners, church officials, strip-club dancers, motel-dwellers, representatives at the Henry Ford Museum, and many others speak about their daily lives and how they’ve seen the city change in successive economic crises since the vibrant age of Motor City. Some vignettes address unemployment, drugs, and homelessness, but others reveal resilience, hard work, tradition, and a sense of community. As one bartender concluded, after describing hardship in her midst: “I won’t walk away. I love it here.”
The stationary portion of the Homestead includes a level of subterranean spaces, which Kelley envisioned as accessible only to him and selected guests for art-making and other ritual uses; in the public project, a personal and inaccessible domain remains, akin to the repressed memories and subconscious energy that animate many of Kelley’s installations, performances, and works on paper. Similarly, these two films—along with a third, which recorded the 2010 launch event at MOCAD—only show the homestead from the exterior. Ultimately, the films double as social examination and portraiture, rendering the artist through the city Kelley called home.
Mobile Homestead is a permanent art work by late artist Mike Kelley located on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. It’s both a public sculpture and a private, personal architecture – based on the artist’s childhood home on Palmer Road in Westland, a neighborhood which primarily housed workers for the Big Three auto makers: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.
In a largely disinvested city with many abandoned houses and dilapidated buildings, Mobile Homestead enacts a reversal of the ‘white flight’ that took place in Detroit following the inner city uprisings of the 1960s. It does so at a time when the city is exploring new options of renewal by assessing its singular post-industrial conditions in an attempt to articulate a new model for American cities.
The sculpture, which almost exactly replicates the vernacular architecture of working class neighborhoods in the American Midwest, brings the suburbs back into the city, and as it travels – on specific missions – the mobile home performs various kinds of community services, establishing a permanent dialogue with the community that houses it.
MOCAD’s Department of Education and Public Engagement programs the ground floor of Mobile Homestead as a community space, as Kelley intended. It is home to projects, events, gatherings, conversations and displays that are created by and for a diverse public, and is intentionally unaffiliated with the Museum’s exhibitions and public programming.
FAMILY DAY: culture, history + video with Shani Peters Where do we find art? Where do we find culture? Must it be in a museum? These and more questions were explored by Shani Peters and Detroit youth at Mike Kelley's Mobile Homestead this past Sunday with video screenings, flip book making, and interactive animation workshop.
Mobile Homestead is a permanent art work by late artist Mike Kelley located on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. It’s both a public sculpture and a private, personal architecture – based on the artist’s childhood home on Palmer Road in Westland.
The sculpture, which almost exactly replicates the vernacular architecture of working class neighborhoods in the American Midwest, will include a community center on the ground floor. The front porch of the home is a mobile unit which detaches from the permanent structure and travels around the city performing various kinds of community services.
Mobile Homestead videos by Mike Kelley will be presented in the Museum Galleries through July 28, 2013.
OPENING WEEKEND Saturday, May 11 6:30PM Opening Ceremony and Remarks
7-10PM Mobile Homestead and MOCAD Galleries open for viewing.
9PM-12 MIDNIGHT Live music by The Früt and The Blackman $6 admission (free for MOCAD members)
Sunday, May 12 NOON-4PM Stop by Mobile Homestead for some barbeque, radio theater, an ice cream social and more, organized by MOCAD’s Education and Public Engagement curators. Free admission.
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART DETROIT 4454 WOODWARD AVE, MIDTOWN