Monday, February 6, 2012

The Kelley Letter: His Burial Wishes

(click to enlarge)
There is still no official cause of death in the Mike Kelley case.  Kelley admirers and friends  have created a poignant makeshift memorial in front of his house on Tipton Avenue. In the meantime, someone sent me an interesting document from a recent publication entitled Don Celender-11 Books (Public Collectors Study Center, Chicago, 2009).

The book contains various projects by the late Conceptual artist Don Celender.  One of the documents is a questionnaire sent out by Celender to various people on how they would like their dead bodies to be dealt with.  One such survey was filled out by Mike Kelley 16 years ago when he was 41.  

Kelley (who filled out the sheet by hand)  has two ideas for his demise:
1. "(To have) My body burnt and the ashes dumped into Bryce Canyon, Utah. No Marker."  He would then have his friends throw a party with the MC5's "Starship" playing as loud as possible.  He refers to this as his romantic version.  It's one that we could all relate to.  

2. The second option is a little more Kelley-esque.  He calls this the "political" version. "Remove all identifying marks from my body and dump it somewhere so the state is stuck with the cost of dealing with it." 

The document is on Macalester College letterhead where Celender was a professor. The Celender letter may or may not be what is ultimately done with Mike Kelley's remains since we don't know if he left a note indicating any such wishes. Yet, it does give us an indication of how he was thinking about death 16 years ago.

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