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Four Part Butter-Scene N'Ganga


Mike Kelley



Institution Walker Art Center
Location Not on view.
Four Part Butter-Scene N'Ganga, Mike Kelley
gallery view
Courtesy Walker Art Center
Mike Kelley, Four Part Butter-Scene N'Ganga (1997)
Mike Kelley, Four Part Butter-Scene N'Ganga (1997)
Philippe Vergne discusses Mike Kelley's Four Part Butter-Scene N'Ganga (1997)
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WalkerResources  September 21, 2012

This artwork is on view in the Walker exhibition The Living Years: Art after 1989. The text below is the artwork's label written for that exhibition.

Mike Kelley, the Los Angeles–based artist who recently passed away at age 57, is much admired for his rowdy, subversive, and transgressive art, which calls attention to repressed aspects of our collective psyche and questions the conservative mores of American society. In Four Part Butter-Scene N’Ganga, four washtubs filled with a strange plastic stew are suspended from the ceiling, connected by pipes and wires. At the base of each, speakers emit a cacophony of grunts and gasps—taken from the soundtrack of the notorious “butter scene” in the 1972 Bernardo Bertolucci film Last Tango in Paris, starring Marlon Brando. For Kelley, the tubs in this work are estimations of “n’ganga pots,” cauldrons containing a fetid mixture of body parts and other materials used in West African Santeria rituals. He wrote, “The n’ganga is the pot which gives chaos its form and, in doing so, limits it.”

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