"At the time, people would generally talk about the birdhouses as formal jokes. People wouldn’t consider sublimation as an aspect of art production except in some heady, Freudian way, like, “Oh, these bad impulses are being nicely put into this object.” Instead of saying maybe it’s not so nice that these impulses are put into these objects. Maybe it’s pitiful that all these energies are pumped into a birdhouse. That’s what I realized I was going for, not some one-line joke like, “Here’s a birdhouse that’s minimalism.” Rather, here’s a structure that’s loaded with pathos, and you still don’t like it, you don’t feel sorry for it, you want to kick it. That’s what I wanted out of the thing—an artwork that you couldn’t raise, there was no way that you could make it better than it was. Its function as art actually makes it more uncomfortable."
Kelley challenged the characteristics of Conceptual art by using the debased, seemingly blank, birdhouse subject matter, followed by an ironic DIY handcrafted construction with idiosyncratic titles. Each of the houses are minimally constructed, no ornamentation, varying in entryway, playing with architectural form, sometimes turned upside-down or with multiple, repetitive roofs. In Catholic Birdhouse, Kelley depicts a horizontal white rectangle with a simplified short dark roof with two front entryway holes. Slightly below the roofs pitch is a very small hole with agitated, chipped marks, with the title above, in caps, THE HARD ROAD. Below the hole is a small cylindrical peg for a perch. Two inches below this hole appears a much larger, standard entryway, clean and without chipped marks. An inch below the hole in a larger cylindrical pegged perch, beneath lays the title, in caps, THE EASY ROAD. Kelley’s use of text plays with common biblical binary parables. His attached handwritten notations for each house continue to toy with Conceptual art practices through playful, far-fetched scenarios that defy the objects utility.
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