Part of Fall 2008 - A Lower World
We are very excited to be presenting a rare screening of Los Angeles art star Mike Kelley’s (born 1954) recently re-edited feature Day Is Done (169 min, 2006), an epic investigation of the mythic archetypes and carnivalesque folk culture of America. This self-described musical – with lyrics by Kelley himself! – assembles a loose narrative out of thirty-one performative vignettes which the artist has dubbed “extracurricular activity projective reconstructions.” Each is a live-action recreation of a photograph of an “extracurricular activity” found in a high school yearbook, referencing such homespun spectacles as school plays, talent shows, pageants, theme dress-up days, holiday festivities, religious services and hazing rituals. Through these highly circumscribed institutional displays, we are treated to thugs and mimes, hillbillies and heartthrobs, even a duo of horses who dance in the climactic final procession. A chubby Christian and a svelte Jewess face off at a candle-lighting ceremony, egged on by two rapping neo-Nazis. A singles mixer degenerates into a war between the black kids, the metalheads, the witches and a hick as they fight over the relative merits of R Kelly, Gene Simmons, Brandon Lee and Garth Brooks. An innuendo-spouting barber terrorizes a young blond boy in a grotesque Freudian primal scene. Despite it being filmed in the immediately recognizable environs of a high school, everything in Day Is Done is slightly askew: the acting hammy, the dialogue perverse. Many characters are practitioners of the dark arts, with a wizard and ghoul who wander the woods, and a slew of goths and vampires. A sleazy, foul-mouthed, stand-up comic Satan takes a prominent place as the film develops, as does the Virgin Mary (and her “hag” doppelganger), Joseph, some angels and the players in a Nativity scene. Who will triumph, good or evil? Or maybe the mousy girl in the back row?