Art of destruction

A collection of work by Jim Shaw and Mike Kelley

A collection of work by Jim Shaw and Mike Kelley

The Broad Art Museum’s latest installation, “Michigan Stories: Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw,” is an atypical celebration of Michigan culture and the important artists that were born from it.

This exhibition, which will run until Feb. 25, is an expansive collection of works by punk rock artists Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw that celebrates the ugly and worships the corpse of post-flower power rebellious rock ‘n’ roll.

Kelley and Shaw have been globally recognized both for their experimental art and their influential noise rock band Destroy All Monsters. Kelley died in 2012 but is survived by his paintings and photography, which have been displayed in galleries internationally.

You’re not going to see the usual artifacts of Michigan life, which have long since become a cliché. Instead you’re invited to what Shaw calls “The Hidden World,” the underbelly of middle-class, suburban Christian life. Shaw uses the juxtaposition of a wide variety of images to conjure a dystopian view of the Midwest, where the influence of televangelists is both sinister and widespread.

His obsessive collection of 20th century artifacts include: the bizarre outfits worn by cultish religious groups, tarot cards, local Michigan church t-shirts and endless tapes of TV preachers, all of which are on display. The exhibition also features Shaw’s series of illustrious surrealistic landscapes, which seem to have a particular interest in the foreboding aesthetics of vacuum cleaners.

The Destroy All Monsters Collective consists of Kelley, Cary Loren and Shaw. Peer at some selected works from the exhibit collected here.

One of Jim Shaw’s many collections of Xeroxed images, this one from 1975. The chaotic images fit well with the disorder one could expect from any given Destroy All Monsters concert. These shows were often improvised with several unconventional instruments, which were often household objects retooled to make as much noise as possible. The band’s original incarnation never managed to record a proper studio album, but many archived recordings are still available for listen and purchase.

“Aahh…Youth,” by Mike Kelley. A lineup of stuffed animal figures in tattered condition, a symbol of lost innocence. Kelley in his younger years appears in the lineup with a subdued look and posture. These particular images were used by Destroy All Monsters acolytes Sonic Youth for the packaging of their critically acclaimed 1991 album Dirty.

"Mall Culture" by Destroy All Monsters Collective. A garish depiction of the band inside of a shopping mall. If the mall is to represent the complacency within rock music, then this depiction of the band fittingly portrays how out of place they truly were.

“Greetings from Detroit,” by Destroy All Monsters Collective. One of two landscapes that celebrate Detroit media figures. Included are: The Stooges, Grand Funk Railroad, Sun Ra, George Clinton, The Up and Scott Richardson.

Amazing Freaks of the Motor City by Destroy All Monsters Collective. Michigan poet and activist John Sinclair is given a saint-like depiction, surrounded by portraits of notable musical figures such as Iggy Pop and Ted Nugent.

Various images collected by Jim Shaw. A juxtaposition of the various things Shaw believes influence mundane Midwestern life. A constantly running tape of various televangelists, a collection of religious records and t-shirts, disturbing bible paintings, medical diagrams and photos from doctor’s visits create the imagery for a world where spiritual fast food has become its lifeblood.

Michigan Stories:

Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw

Through Feb. 25 Free Admission Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum Michigan State University 547 East Circle Drive East Lansing, MI 48824 Tues. - Sun. Noon to 7 p.m.

(517) 884-4800 •


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