Mike Goodlett: Desire Itself
(August 28 - October 2) Desires are fleeting. Once we satisfy them, they escape us. This cycle inspires a long-debated question: what’s more fulfilling—the having, or the yearning? For Mike Goodlett, longing was a source of creation. He luxuriated in this place of tension, the moments when we risk being consumed by our impulses, when the mind hungrily explores what reality has yet to embody. It was a central theme that resonated within much of his work. Desire Itself, an exhibition solely comprised of the late artist’s shadowbox dioramas, serves as both memorial and celebration. Goodlett’s home was at the heart of his oeuvre, the site of a decades-long visual call-and-response between the house’s elements and his own artistic production. These dioramas function as microcosms of that place in both their dogma and whimsy; mysterious symbols and intricate adornments mimic the embellishments of the home where paper flowers bloom from cracks in the ceiling and sculptures emerge from holes in the floor. Not unlike his home, the artist’s shadowboxes reveal maximal installations constructed from carved wooden casings, paper forms, and delicate, glittering accents. Objects rest curiously within the frames: ribbons spiral among cutout chandeliers, life-size paper cigarettes are stubbed on the floors, and—just as in Goodlett’s house—wide eyes omnisciently and hungrily take in the scene. The intricate architecture of these sculptures offers bold delights, while their subtlest details cache secret messages within pieces of rolled paper—hidden notes and snippets of writing torn from the artist’s private notebooks. These humble journals were as detailed and mysterious as any artwork, intimate tools for exploring and mediating his moods and inclinations. Containing long lists of grievances and fears, cravings, and wishes, the notebooks were at the heart of Goodlett’s practice, the foundation upon which his work was literally and conceptually built. These shadowboxes contain all that survive of them—the others have been hidden from our prying eyes, destroyed by Goodlett shortly before his passing. Goodlett’s works are markers of sensations past. They are the expressions of an artist who preferred to conceal his desires from the judgements of those who would seek to condemn him, instead imagining another place to pursue adventures and record his dreams. These shadowboxes—the preface to the sleek, graphic works that would follow—remind us of the breadth of such a creator, the range of his abilities and his world. Here we may explore a place of curiosity, ambiguity, and freedom, born from the mind and hands of the person who most understood the need for it. Our desires may inspire us, consume us, and even torture us. Goodlett suggests: let them. - A few months prior to his death, Mike Goodlett generously donated his home and land to Institute 193, with whom he had a long-standing relationship. His intention was to start a residency program to welcome artists, writers, poets, journalists, curators, and others to spend time in the place that he loved. He suggested that they might feel like he did as a young man, like a character from Robinson Crusoe, or a castaway in landlocked Central Kentucky, surviving only on his wits. In the coming months, Institute 193 will honor his wish, creating such a place from his home. For more information on the Mike Goodlett Residency at House Badlett, email Ryan Filchak at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nathan Jones at email@example.com.
Company / Organization
Founded in 2009, Institute 193 embraces the notion that groundbreaking contemporary art can and does emerge outside of large metropolitan centers. Institute 193 provides artists from Kentucky and the Southeastern United States—selected not by commercial viability, but by the quality and relevance of their work—with exhibition and publication opportunities. It also endeavors to help these artists gain broader media exposure and foster connections in art markets across the globe. Institute 193’s original gallery space is located in Lexington, Kentucky, a mid-sized city with a vibrant creative community. Nevertheless, Lexington lacks a museum or a center for contemporary art. Institute 193 fills this cultural void by hosting musical performances, film screenings, lectures, and other community-driven events in addition to visual art exhibitions.
193 N Limestone