Invited Artists

Pawel_Althamer | Michael_Asher | Nairy_Baghramian | Guy_Ben-Ner | Guillaume_Bijl | Martin_Boyce | Jeremy Deller | Michael_Elmgreen und Ingar_Dragset | Hans-Peter_Feldmann | Dora_Garcia | Isa_Genzken | Dominique_Gonzalez-Foerster | Tue_Greenfort | David_Hammons | Valérie_Jouve | Mike_Kelley | Suchan Kinoshita | Marko_Lehanka | Gustav_Metzger | Eva_Meyer und Eran_Schaerf | Deimantas_Narkevicius | Bruce_Nauman | Maria_Pask | Manfred_Pernice | Susan_Philipsz | Martha_Rosler | Thomas_Schütte | Andreas_Siekmann | Rosemarie_Trockel | Silke_Wagner | Mark_Wallinger | Clemens von Wedemeyer | Annette_Wehrmann | Pae_White


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Mike Kelley

*1954 in Detroit/Michigan, lives and works in Los Angeles

Project: Petting Zoo (Streichelzoo)

The angels who came to Sodom and Gomorrah to put an end to the notorious sins of the cities’ inhabitants warned only Lot and his wife that they must leave the city. And although they were told to do so without looking back even once, Lot’s wife disobeyed the angels’ instruction and was transformed into a pillar of salt. However, this sad tale of those who defy a divine decree ends on a conciliatory note in its idyllic final scene: ever since the tragic event, animals have come to the pillar to lick the salt.

Just a stone’s throw away from Münster’s main train station, the American artist Mike Kelley is restaging this biblical legend, expanding the scene, however, to include the visitors. Kelley invites them to visit his petting zoo, which is open every day to the general public. The animals may be fed and petted, and all of them – sheep, goats, and ponies – will be crowding together with the visitors around Mrs. Lot’s pillar, which Mike Kelley has fashioned according to images from children’s bibles from his own boyhood.

Studies have demonstrated that petting animals relieves stress and may even promote longevity in humans. However, affection also leads to feelings of dependence, and in one’s desire to do only the best for oneself and others, love proves itself to be blind. Somehow strangely, the animals in Kelley’s petting zoo are shown videos of three rock formations named after Lot’s wife: one on the Dead Sea, one in New South Wales, Australia, and the other in St. Helena.


Since his participation in documenta 9 (1992) and 10 (1997) and his famous retrospective exhibited at the Haus der Kunst in Munich in 1995, on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art, the US-American Mike Kelley has become a widely discussed artist, also in Germany. His objects, installations, and performances draw our attention to the subliminal collective fears and desires, which he discovers, above all, in the US middle class, which is very influenced and shaped by religion. Kelley considers himself a 'blue-collar anarchist', who lifts the idealising veil of alleged memories, making the repression and taboos behind the bourgeois facade the themes of his art. He stages the worlds that appear from the dark, sometimes in a sublime, sometimes in an uncanny way. "Look at things, analyse structures, establish links, plus black humour": Kelley's works are often sarcastic disclosures that criticise the system. This leitmotiv we also find in the exhibitions curated by the artist.

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