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Day Is Done
Day Is Done, a major new video work by Los Angeles artist Mike Kelley, is a feature-length musical. It enunciates a career-long interest in American subcultures and folk events through the re-staging of 31 carnivalesque productions intermixed into a meandering semi-narrative. Each reconstruction is a live-action scene that has been extrapolated from photographs found in high school yearbooks. Their subjects are the kinds of institutionalized entertainments practiced within the American education system or the work place. These include such familiar diversions from the day-to-day routine as dress-up days, memorial speeches, religious spectacles, fashion shows, singles mixers, and musical follies. The actors have been cast based on their resemblance to the figures in the found photographs, and read morethe sets eerily recreate the original locales: harshly spot-lit stages, bland institutional hallways, meeting rooms, and gymnasiums. While each chapter of Day Is Done is derived entirely from an image of a quite standardized folk ritual, Kelley disrupts the traditional structures of such events to construct a dizzying daisy chain of performances that results in an institutional landscape populated by dancing Goths, singing vampires, hick story-tellers, horse dancers, and the Virgin Mary.

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