Mike Kelley’s Magnum Opus: Day is Done released as a 2 DVD set (169 minutes). Written and directed by Mike Kelley, with original music by Mike Kelley and Scott Benzel, choreography by Kate Foley
The first of the projected 365 videos, Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (A Domestic Scene) was shown at the Emi Fontana Gallery in Milan and then in “Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art” at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 2000. The tape was a half-hour melodramatic play mimicking the look of ’50s TV dramas. With the current series I didn’t want people to get so caught up in the individual tapes; rather, I wanted to create an experience akin to channel surfing. The structure of movie musicals seemed a good way to achieve this, as they generally dispense with traditional narrative. Musicals are episodic and contain a variety of scenes, acts, and production numbers. Among popular forms the musical is the least unified and coherent. On the formal level I moved from a single set with accompanying tape to something more like spatialized filmic montage: a feature-length film in which montage is literalized in space. I wanted complexity, but I never imagined that I would end up with the thirty-some tapes that I did. It just turned out that way.
Once I chose the images, I wrote songs and music for a series of production numbers based on them. I worked with a choreographer to develop dance numbers. The question arose: What narrative elements should hold the production numbers together? Musicals and pornography operate similarly: There are the popular acts, and then there’s the narrative glue that holds them together, which is generally unimportant and often ridiculous. My narrative glue consists of a thin plot in which workers in an undefined “institutional workplace” attend a yearly grand spectacle.
…I want to create a contemporary gesamtkunstwerk that is not utopian in nature but is an extension of our current victim culture. My version of this unremittingly dark vision is presented as fun, as a carnivalesque escape from the drab daily grind of normal life. We are now in a period in which a lot of fun art is being made. I put this show together with New York in mind. There’s a lot of Broadway in it, and Broadway is quintessentially New York. — MIke Kelley, excerpted from 1000 Words: Mike Kelley Talks about Day is Done, Artforum, Oct. 2005