MOCA: Pansy Metal Clovered Hoof by Mike Kelley & Anita Pace
A celebration of artist Mike Kelley’s prolific career began on Sunday at the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in the Geffen Contemporary space, a huge cavernous building now filled with drawings, paintings, installations, video art, music, photography, sculpture and more by Mike Kelley. His work grabs modern culture by the throat and subverts it into a twisted dream that is so deeply personal that it becomes eerily universal.
Upon walking in the door, it’s as if you’re transported to an alternate world where familiar chunks of pop culture imagery, sound and texture are tortured in a blender with heavy doses of fantasy, darkness and deep truth. It’s like reliving your childhood and teenage years through the lens of a really smart friend on acid.
Nightclub bathroom stall or creepy dream?
The highlight for me was a re-staging of the 1989 performance piece Pansy Metal Clovered Hoof, which was a collaboration between Mike Kelley and my friend, choreographer Anita Pace, pictured here photographing her show between the dancers. It’s a ‘runway model’ subversion set to Motörhead’s Orgasmatron, which was how I got Richard to come.
The dancers, Erica Carpenter, Beau Dobson and Jos McKain, were mesmerizing in their flowing silk banners and powerful gestures and movements that felt almost medieval. And as Violet pointed out to me afterward, “You can see their underwear!” It’s a testament to the compelling nature of the piece that Violet and Anita’s twins Liam and Lily, all five years old, were riveted – and the twins have already seen it twice!
Anita explained to me that the outdoor setting with Los Angeles sunshine isn’t the usual venue for Pansy Metal. “It is supposed to be in a dark, dramatically lit strip club looking environment so this version at MOCA was very different presentation. It was more heroic with the tall building behind them and the museum around and the sky of course.”
Here’s a movie of the piece from the MOMA PS1 exhibit in NYC.
And here are the horrifying lyrics to Orgasmatron:
I am the one, Orgasmatron, the outstretched grasping hand My image is of agony, my servants rape the land Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain Two thousand years of misery, of torture in my name Hypocrisy made paramount, paranoia the law My name is called religion, sadistic, sacred whore.
I twist the truth, I rule the world, my crown is called deceit I am the emperor of lies, you grovel at my feet I rob you and I slaughter you, your downfall is my gain And still you play the sycophant and revel in your pain And all my promises are lies, all my love is hate I am the politician, and I decide your fate
I march before a martyred world, an army for the fight I speak of great heroic days, of victory and might I hold a banner drenched in blood, I urge you to be brave I lead you to your destiny, I lead you to your grave Your bones will build my palaces, your eyes will stud my crown For I am Mars, the god of war, and I will cut you down
And as if Mike Kelley weren’t cool enough, here he is in his 70’s punk, noise, experimental Detroit band, Destroy All Monsters.
The wearable banners from Pansy Metal.