Art as Experience in the millennial age : #GIF nation with Mike Kelley and threeASFOUR

he is so excited... for Mike Kelley @ MoMA PS1

he is so excited… for Mike Kelley @ MoMA PS1

“Art is thus a way of having the substantial cake of reason while also enjoying the sensuous pleasure of eating it.” 

John Dewey, “Art as Experience”, (269)

John Dewey was a man before his time. “Art as Experience” was published in 1934, when photography and the moving pictures so diversified artistic expression.

Today, technological advancements and an growing intersection between art and science is again redefining our own experiences with the expanding art arena. In New York City right now, installation art is a fulfilling way to experience art on a deeper level because its participatory nature affirms our own self existence.

Do not throw yourself into an existential crisis just yet; our millennial age is one of parody, humor, satire, and social media. What was once “deep contemplation of being” is now the instantaneous and immediately gratifying #selfie. Let us capture our experiences through the lens, let us fulfill our self-perpetuating prophecy and become a Gif Nation.


MoMA PS1, Mike Kelley, “Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites”, 1991/1999.

MoMA PS1’s Mike Kelley retrospective is experiential to the core. Speaking of his early work Kelley said, “My entrance into the art world was through the counter-culture, where it was common practice to lift material from mass culture and ‘pervert’ it to reverse or alter its meaning… Mass culture is scrutinized to discover what is hidden, repressed, within it.”

His subversive art takes mass commodities and inverts their use value; we are surrounded by plushy stuffed animals appropriated into clouds. A stuffed animal in situ is a toy to be touched, loved, and with age, discarded. Kelley fetishizes the child’s play to objects of such immense value they no longer ages through rough house play, but are (literally) suspended in their glory, preserved in their superior state, abstracted to color field orbs, and transformed into a perverse object of immeasurable visual value. Like a glass menagerie on display, we may look, but we may not touch.

We may not embrace these plushy clouds, but we may preserve our experience photographically and capture this jovial state indefinitely.

“We are not sufficiently alive to feel the tang of sense nor yet to be moved by thought. We are oppressed by our surroundings or are callous to them. Acceptance of this sort of experience as normal is the chief cause of acceptance of the idea that art cancels separations that inhere in the structure of ordinary experience.” (271)


The Jewish Museum, “MerKaBa”, threeASFOUR

The troupe threeASFOUR aims to encourage global harmony through fashion. Their exhibition MER KA BA at The Jewish Museum embraces many spiritual concepts: #Merkaba is a mystical form of Judaism; ka ba alludes to the Kaaba, one of the holiest sites in Islam and the focal point of the Mecca pilgrimage; Muraqaba is a Sufi meditation practice.

In ancient Egypt the hieroglyphs mer (rotating light), ka (spirit), and ba (body), placed together, describe the energy field through which the soul enters the body and ascends to higher planes. Merkaba  is a meditation of mental transcendence.

@threeASFOUR created a total installation to reinstate a mind/body connection. One may glide through the space, ending with a Mirror Temple of sorts, and be spiritually awakened through a synasthetic experience. Or, we may choose to dance and take #selfies to reinstate our own 21st century millennial autonomy. The choice is yours.

“In the end, works of art are the only media of complete and unhindered communication between man and man that can occur in a world full of gulfs and walls that limit community of experience.” (109)

Mike Kelley @ MoMA PS1

Mike Kelley @ MoMA PS1



  1. Zahadita · November 21, 2013


  2. Paula Kuitenbrouwer · November 22, 2013

    ‘What was once “deep contemplation of being” is now the instantaneous and immediately gratifying #selfie’.

    You might like to know that the word Selfie has been voted the Word of the Year 2013 in the Netherlands. *Deep sigh*.


  3. erickuns · November 23, 2013

    The Mike Kelley works are so colorful. Hadn’t seen them before.

    • dlkalamaras · November 23, 2013

      It was such an experience to be in his room of floating stuffed animals! Mike Kelley is an artist of many hats. Check out his early 1970s performances, they are satire at its finest.

  4. Julie Seyler · November 23, 2013

    The Mike Kelley exhibit is worth experiencing several times. So many things to see and to see again and to always something new. It’s striking how he stays in your mind ‘s eye.

    • dlkalamaras · November 23, 2013

      I agree Julie. I am going back this Sunday. I just cannot get enough! Thank you for stopping by and leaving this thoughtful comment, much appreciated.

  5. Pingback: Mike Kelley phantasmagoria at MoMA PS1 | Danielle Kalamaras
  6. digiriki · December 18, 2013

    Love the color and cute of the plushy exhibit! I didn’t know about Mike Kelley’s work so thanks for sharing!

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