Academic Writings

On Playing with Dead Things

On "Playing with Dead Things"

Mike Kelley's essay "Playing with Dead Things" is so clearly written that I thought I had died and gone to reading heaven, but then I realized that it was just an uncanny reaction to the fear caused by the intellectual uncertainty I usually feel when reading many dense art historical articles.

I especially connected with Freud's definition of the uncanny as having a link to the familiar: ďas the class of the terrifying which leads us back to something long known and once very familiar, yet now concealed and kept out of sight. It is the unfamiliar familiar, the conventional made suspect.' This describes the way I want my art to feel. I want to create pieces that tap into ideas, knowledge, and memories totally known and familiar but, at the same time, completely forgotten and unknown until that moment. I know the feeling; I love the feeling. To stir up this feeling from the deepest dregs of the viewer's soul and -- thus change them ever so slightly -- is a challenge, a joy.
--March 1, 2003

© 2021 Carol Hummel