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Mike Kelley, Four Part Butter-Scene N'Ganga (1997)


Walker Art Center



Institution Walker Art Center
Kelley is best known for his soft sculptural assemblages and installations of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which incorporated crocheted afghans, dolls, and stuffed animals. In Four Part Butter-Scene N'Ganga, four washtubs full of brightly colored, mysteriously textured globs of vermiculite and plastic fruit and vegetables are held by an armature of pipe and wire. At its base, a cacophony of grunts and gasps--the "butter scene" from Bernardo Bertolucci's film Last Tango in Paris--emanates.

The tubs in this work simulate n'ganga pots, cauldrons containing a fetid stew of body parts and other exotic and mundane materials that might be used in Santeria rituals. According to the artist, "the n'ganga is considered the repository of enslaved tortured souls who are bound to carry out the evil spirits of the magician. . . . The n'ganga stew is the limitless erotic made manifest . . . it is the pot which gives chaos its form and, in doing so, limits it."

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Type: Commentary, object label
Source: Label text for Mike Kelley, Four Part Butter-Scene N'Ganga (1997), from the exhibition 100 Years of Sculpture: From the Pedestal to the Pixel, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, February 22-May 24, 1998.
Rights: Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009