Mike Kelley at The Whitney Museum in New York

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More Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid is a frenzied, makeshift of dolls and blankets artist Mike Kelley excavated by digging through thrift stores. Kelley assembles the discarded play toys into one heap of discarded mass, exposing the darkly prototypical condition of child-rearing and childhood: loving something too much and receiving too little love in return. However, Kelley does not designate too whom more “love hours” are owed: At once, the blank stares of stuffed faces resemble a notion of love that is rejected. Could it be the cast-off product of a distant parent, the act of a child’s seclusion as a defense mechanism, that speaks beneath the mass of orphaned toys? Conversely, could the incalculable hours of labor – sewing, crocheting and stitching – required to make these dolls and blankets suggest a parent’s expectation for a sort of childlike forfeit, and for what? Raised above the pile of melted candles in Kelly’s corresponding work The Wages of Sin, the entire scene becomes an enshrined dais to child-angst and infers a child’s ‘trial by fire’ into the empty, callous worlds of duty, industry, and expiation of society.

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