New Britain Museum of American Art
New Britain, CT
Brooklyn-based artist Kevin Kelly is most known for his non-linear videos, which weave together narrative cinema and conceptual performance art. In the video, Proximity + Priority, Kelly documents his attempt to sign up for New York City’s ‘Adopt-A-Trash-Basket’ program. The 13-minute video shows a process of stripping the paint off a city trash can, artificially rusting it out and then re-painting it to its original state. Scenes from old or repurposed landfills are intercut with this process, while a voice-over interview with a frustrated community leader and poetic narrator are heard. By entangling poetry and political ideas with a personal narrative, the artist questions the common understandings of clichéd objects, sites, consumerism, and narratives.
Kelly’s artistic practice leading up to the video consists of casting calls, research, conversation, and subsequent shooting in which he enters into a collaborative relationship with people, who sometimes portray themselves or are put into the role of actor or performer. Kelly states, “sites, objects, and interactions between participants unfold similarly like the child’s game of ‘telephone.’ The sites are common, the objects everyday, but they become defamiliarized through my lens. I look for formal qualities, within the sites/objects/participants, that typically go unnoticed but reveal something anthropological.”
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website