After a very hot traipse around London yesterday looking for the Gagosian Gallery near King’s Cross, I was glad we had persisted in our quest. A fellow artist had told me that this show was “right up my street”, so I was curious as the photos of the work did not reflect my own installations. I’ve been to Gagosian in NYC but not to the one in London, so was excited to see this wonderful exhibition space looking just like the one in Chelsea, NYC.

Unlike my work, there was clear narrative in Mike Kelley’s work. “The Kandors series, which Kelley initiated in 1999, are sculptural depictions of Superman’s birthplace Kandor. The popular Superman story recounts the adventures of an alien being sent to Earth as a baby to escape the total destruction of his home planet Krypton. However, it turns out that Kandor was not, in fact, destroyed. Shrunk and bottled by a villain, the futuristic city was later rescued by Superman and protected under a bell jar in his sanctuary, the Fortress of Solitude. For almost a quarter-century in comic-book time, Kandor and its miniature citizens survived in Superman’s care, sustained by tanks of atmosphere, a constant reminder of his lost past and a metaphor for his psychic disconnection from his adopted planet”.

The similarities between my own work and Kelley’s came more in the form of process, than content. Both working in materials used in theatre and film productions, the objects take on a monumental form. Kelly carves and sculpts polystyrene while I manipulate, stretch, pull, fold and turn insulating foam as it is hardens. We both transform the material through paint and use lighting to enhance it.

in Kelley’s work, “The centerpiece Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude) is a pile of dark boulders and slabs forming a cave with a quarry-like foyer made from faux black rock and built on a scale that invites the viewer into the forbidden fortress. Set within the cave’s inner recesses is a glowing rose-colored city-in-a-bottle”.
This work particularly reminded me of the first collaborative experiential work that I did with Seth Brignell, a sound artist. Inside this ‘boulder’ was a cave where, lying face down on the board that the viewer was pushed inside the structure, the viewer then enters a private space where the drone sounds and the video create a sense of isolation.

Chamber Works I, 2007: a collaboration between Alison Raimes and Seth Brignell (sound)

Chamber Works III, 2008 - a collaboration between Alison Raimes and Seth Brignell (sound)

In Chamber Works III, the viewer is confined in the structure which is dropped over them. Again the sound and video create a sense of aloneness, but in this piece there is a discomfort accentuated by the movement of the suspended form.

There are definite similarities in the our end products – the forms reminiscent of scif fi; the dramatic lighting, the theatre set and the intention for experiential experiences. Where the works really differ is in the narrative. My work invites the viewer to create their own narrative.

I highly recommend seeing either Mike Kelley


or Alison Raimes at Unit P, Hadrian Enterprise Park, Haltwhistle, Northumberland NE49 0HF on October 9th from 10-7pm!