Edward Ressle is pleased to present Mike Kelley’s historical triptych, The Secret, 1999 at 53 Orchard. The Secret expands upon the themes of objet trouvé and mixed media explored in the gallery’s current exhibition, ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE. In this prescient work, Kelley critiques the Clinton administration’s failure to resolve the healthcare crises of the Nineties, by proposing an absurd solution: government-sponsored sex clinics staffed by celebrities to relieve society’s ills of sexual repression and harvest the public’s obsession with vanity and superstar culture. The center panel, a blown-up copy of ‘The Land Before Time: The Secret of Saurus Rock’ movie poster, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to both the Freudian nature of childhood movies, and the archaic, slow-moving lethargy of the American healthcare system. His manifesto on this farcical system of healthcare was originally published as an essay titled ‘A Stop-Gap Measure’, and went on to inform much of his artwork created in 1999. Kelley’s sharp grasp on social satire is at its peak in The Secret,where he pulls from popular culture to comment on the sordid, sad truths that we would rather avoid. 

In an interview with fellow artist John Miller, Kelley comments on his affinity for the cultural suppression that characterizes much of his best-known work, such as the stuffed animal sculptures and installations: ‘I think [these motifs] really standardized kinds of repressed things in the culture—embarrassing things, like sexual dysfunction and the scatological.’ Kelley points out the systematic failures of the American government to care for its citizens in a manner that Los Angeles Times critic Claudine Ise called ‘challenging, viciously funny, steeped in irony and evincing a casual disregard for the strictures of political correctness.

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