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  • Provenance

    Jablonka Galerie, Cologne; Zwirner & Wirth, New York

  • Exhibited

    Cologne, Jablonka Galerie, Mike Kelley, November 15 - December 21, 1991 (early version of installation exhibited)
    Kunstverein Braunschweig, Mike Kelley: Two Projects “Sublevel: Dim Recollections Illuminated by Multicolored Swamp Gas” and “Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites”, September 4 – October 31, 1999, pp. 43-46, 56 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    I. Blazwick, V. Grunder, and T. Kellein, eds., Mike Kelley, Basel, 1992, pp. 82-83 (early version of installation at Jablonka Galerie illustrated)
    C. Herring, K. Wosnitzka, and R.C. Wirtz, eds., Mike Kelley: Two Projects “Sublevel: Dim Recollections Illuminated by Multicolored Swamp Gas” and “Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites”, Cologne, 1999, pp. 43-46, 56 (illustrated)
    I. Graw, A. Vidler and J. Welchman, eds., Mike Kelley, London, 1999, pp. 33-35 (early version of installation at Jablonka Galerie illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The sculptural installation Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites consists of a roughly spherical accumulation of plush toys surrounded by 12, slightly smaller, satellites composed of similar materials. Each orb is made up of stuffed animals, of like color, that have been sewn together facing inward. These are suspended by nylon ropes that are attached to steel plates mounted to the ceiling. Various pairs of the orbs balance each other by means of a system of pulleys. The composition resembles a fanciful planet orbited by colorful moons, and the entire assembly is surrounded by 10 human-scale wall-mounted fiberglass “deodorizers.” Each of these is a single bright color, and the surfaces are slick and shiny like that of a new automobile. The wall units were inspired by the small plastic deodorizers often seen in public restrooms, the designs of which are generally poor evocations of high-tech modernism. My wish was to come up with something resembling a mix of Darth Vader’s mask and futuristic car design. Each one of my deodorizers contains an interior mechanism that, on occasion, sprays into the air a subtle mist of pine-scented liquid.

    The sculpture was first exhibited in a solo exhibition, curated by Karola Grässlin, at the Kunstverein Braunschweig in 1999 but it grows out of an earlier exhibition mounted at the Jablonka Galerie in Cologne in 1991. In this exhibition a group of discrete sculptures, smaller than the Deodorized Central Mass… but similarly composed of suspended orbs of stuffed animals that balance each other by means of pulley systems, were surrounded by the same sprayer units. During the run of the show I came to the conclusion that the sprayers did not really function well as single sculptures; they looked better in mass and made much more sense in relation to the hanging plush sculptures. I designed the new larger hanging accumulation of stuffed animals and, paired with the sprayers, this became a single sculptural installation.

    Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites comes at the tail end of a large series of works, beginning in the late Eighties, made from stuffed animals and other craft materials. At a certain point I became aware that many viewers had a very empathic relationship with the stuffed animals and I began to work against this by foregrounding their material nature and the fact that many of them were dirty and worn. At first I intimated this out by purposely placing a can of insect killer in the gallery as if it was left there by mistake, and then I included such products into the works themselves. The presence of cleaning products and insect killer in proximity in the sculptures caused the viewer to regard them with a certain amount of suspicion.

    Earlier craft accumulation pieces such as More Love Hours than Can Ever Be Repaid, 1987 [Collection Whitney Museum of American Art, New York], contained stuffed animals that faced both in and out, giving the impression that the organization of them was random. One would think that turning the toys face-in would negate an empathic response in the viewer because all one sees then are patches of colored fabric. Rather, I found the opposite to be the case. Facing the stuffed animals away from the viewer is generally read as cruel treatment of them. With the Deodorized Central Mass… I purposely played with these various strategies in a very deliberate manner. Large masses of “dehumanized” fuzzy stuffed animals are treated in a completely formal way, set in contrast to slick geometrical forms of “modern” design, and constantly bombarded with scented sprays the odor of which is reminiscent of cleaning supplies. Never-the-less, the first impact of the work is cheery. It is colorful and festive in appearance. With the exception of Craft Morphology Flow Chart, 1991 [Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago], it is the largest work I have made utilizing stuffed toys.

    The construction of Deodorized Central Mass… led to another work, titled Runway for Interactive DJ Event [Private collection, Italy], which was first presented at the opening event of the exhibition in Braunschweig. In order to stress the pure color of the stuffed animals which make up the hanging orbs in Deodorized Central Mass… I stripped all of their clothes off. These outfits were positioned on a model ramp and a videotape of a “fashion show” was shot in which they are presented. This project is described in detail in my book Minor Histories. The Runway… was presented in a more complete form in an exhibition at the Galleria Emi Fontana, Milan, in 2000.


Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites

Mixed media installation comprised of: one central mass and twelve satellites consisting of found stuffed animals sewn over wooden and wire mesh frames with Styrofoam packing material; ten deodorizers consisting of fiberglass, car lacquer, electronic device with distilled water and spruce needle sauna infusion; metal hardware, nylon rope, and pulleys.
Installation dimensions variable. Central mass 54 x 152 x 63 in. (137.2 x 386.1 x 160 cm.); satellite dimensions vary from 19 x 18 x 18 in. (48.3 x 45.7 x 45.7 cm.) to 37 x 40 x 40 in. (93.9 x 101.6 x 101.6 cm.); deodorizers 84 x 23 x 17 ½ in. (213.4 x 58.4 x 44.5 cm.) each.

$3,000,000 - 4,000,000 

Sold for $2,704,000

Contemporary Art Part I

16 Nov 2006, 7pm
New York