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Photos: Art Lovers Wave Their Freak Flag At Mike Kelley Bacchanal

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This weekend MOCA played host to a mini carnival to celebrate the life of artist Mike Kelley. Right now the museum is hosting a retrospective that had been in the works at the time of his death in 2012.

Sunday's "Bacchanal" lasted just one hour and was curated by Ann Magnuson. Attendees brought the worn-out stuffed animals that have been an iconic part of Kelley's work. Kelley said that he started using hand-knit animals from flea markets, because he was interested in the economics of a gift exchange, but the public read it as evidence of some sort of abuse in Kelley's childhood. The animals at yesterday's celebration were used for a fertility maypole.

Magnuson described how she came up with the idea for the Bacchanal in an interview posted on MOCA's website:

MOCA approached me to do an Art Talk connected to the retrospective and that just seemed kind of boring to me. I wanted to do something more kinetic, and by kinetic I mean full of mayhem, joyful mayhem. To me, Mike’s energy and a lot of his artwork, emanated from the world of the carnival, the world of pagan madness, the world of heavy metal, rock ‘n roll, Manson Family hedonism... all on a shoestring budget. That to me is the spirit of Mike, especially his early years and his band Destroy All Monsters, and that’s what we hope to channel on Sunday. It’s in the spirit of any artistic community, at least the ones I’ve been involved with, where like-minded people come together and encourage each other to be as far out as they want to be, without fear (and often without money), and we invite anyone who wants to wave their freak flag high to please come and wave it freely!
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Magnuson sang some of the songs she had written with Kelley, and performance artists including Squeaky Blonde and Robert Dayton with his kissing booth) joined in on the mayhem, too.