Friday, June 4, 2010

Taking "A Voyage of Growth and Discovery" Through Eagle Rock

Michael Smith as Baby IKKI on his "Voyage of Growth and Discovery"

A major art event has taken up residence in an unlikely space in Eagle Rock. “A Voyage of Growth and Discovery” by Mike Kelley and Michael Smith will be on view at the Farley Building for three months, until August 26.
“A Voyage of Growth and Discovery” features the character of Baby IKKI in a mixed media work that includes a multi-channel video, a 30-foot sculpture and a sound installation.
The two-and-a-half hour, six-channel video component of “A Voyage of Growth and Discovery” follows the existential journey of Baby IKKI—a pre-lingual character Michael Smith has been performing at major international museums and in public for over 30 years--as he wanders through a festival of "radical self-expression" in Nevada's remote Black Rock Desert. The installation evokes the festival's fantasy-like environment, which is described by the event producers as “both folksy and grand—a mixture of fairground, playground, hippie commune and the futuristic architectural aesthetic of R. Buckminster Fuller.” Baby IKKI negotiates the rave-like festival environment while also exploring the primal natural elements of fire, water, earth and wind. Related sculptures fill the 15,500-square foot space surrounding a 30-foot tall junk sculpture of Baby IKKI.
The collaborative project was actually born in Mike Kelley’s studio space in the Farley Building, a 50s-era public storage building. It had its debut in New York before returning to its roots.
“A Voyage of Growth and Discovery” is co-produced by West of Rome and the SculptureCenter of Long Island City, New York. It is curated by Emi Fontana, West of Rome’s Executive and Creative Director.
Pasadena-based West of Rome Public Art (WoR), launched in 2005, is a non-profit “conduit of cultural activity,” dedicated to the realization of artists’ projects, exhibitions and public interventions that encourage dialogue and community interaction, primarily within the Los Angeles region.
In opening the artists’ studio to the public, West of Rome is intentionally calling into question the traditional division between the art’s public and private spheres. The event also reflects West of Rome’s ongoing desire to highlight parts of the City outside the art world’s usual path—in the case of Eagle Rock, an area characterized by ethnic diversity and a large population of creative professionals.

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