Mobile Homestead by Mike Kelley

In 1995, during an interview, Mike Kelley claimed to be contrary to public art saying “I’ve always had an aversion to public art, which I feel is too often imposed upon the viewer.” Maybe, after 15 years, Kelley has changed his opinion. If he did, there might be a good reason why.

Mobile Homestead is the first installment of a major new work by Mike Kelley – both a public sculpture and a private, personal architecture – based on the artist’s childhood home on Palmer Road in Westland, a neighborhood of Detroit. On Saturday 25 September 2010, Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead makes its maiden voyage from its new home in Midtown Detroit (on the grounds of MOCAD) to return to the original Kelley home in the suburbs.

On its way down Michigan Avenue, one of Detroit’s main arteries and passageway to the western suburbs, the mobile home passes through some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods such as the old Irish area of Cork Town; Dearborn, the home of the Ford motor company, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (Ford’s personal collection of homes and structures associated with great Americans such as Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers and Rosa Parks); Inkster; Wayne (where Kelley attended Catholic school); and finally Westland where the former Kelley family home still stands.

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 race riots 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 the Kelley home and other houses of 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.

Over the past few months, Mike Kelley has been shooting material for a video documentary that focuses on the people and communities who live and work along Michigan Avenue. A ‘trailer’ for the film will be shown at MOCAD as part of the opening events on 25 September.

The project will be fully completed in 2011, when the mobile home will be attached to an altered reconstruction of the Kelley home, to function as a community space.

Mobile Homestead is artist Mike Kelley’s first public art project anywhere and the first major permanent installation of his work in his hometown. This project is also the first commission by Artangel in the United States and has been produced with support from the LUMA Foundation and in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. The work is also the first contemporary artwork especially commissioned for the Midtown Neighborhood of Detroit.

An Artangel Commission with LUMA Foundation and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)

(from press release)