Mike Kelley and Michael Smith's feature-length video A Voyage of Growth and Discovery follows the existential journey of Baby IKKI over several days at Burning Man, a festival of "radical self-expression," famous for its presentations of large-scale displays of fire, held in the remote Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Baby IKKI, pre-lingual and of ambiguous age, is a character that artist Michael Smith has been performing for over thirty years.
The Baby, alone in his journey, despite being surrounded by thousands of revelers, negotiates the rave-like festival environment while also exploring the primal natural elements of fire, water, earth, and wind. The hour-and-a-half long video mirrors the annual event: four days and nights of festival, preceded by an introductory travel section, and followed by a post-festival day. The festival itself is a carnivalesque event where IKKI is subsumed in raves, faced with erotic encounters, and surrounded by multitudes of costumed party-goers, many dressed in childish attire (though none as infantile as IKKI). The culmination of the event is the spectacular public "burn," after which the Baby is left alone to ponder his "voyage."
A Voyage of Growth and Discovery was originally part of a six-channel, multi-screen sculptural installation presented at SculptureCenter, Long Island City, NY in 2009. It then traveled to Los Angeles in 2010, where it was presented by West of Rome Public Arts, co-producer of the work.
Written, Directed, Produced by Mike Kelley, Michael Smith. Featuring: Michael Smith as Baby IKKI. Director of Photography: L. Gabrielle Penabaz. Editor: Molly Fitzjarrald. Music: Mike Kelley, Scott Benzel. Mix: Scott Benzel. Line Producer: L. Gabrielle Penabaz. Production Assistants: Anna Arden McDonald, Malcolm Stuart. Production Manager, Kelley Studio: Mary Clare Stevens. Production Assistant, Kelley Studio: Amy Wong. Production Assistant, Smith Studio: Nina Schwanse. Titles: Ahrum Hong. Still Photography: Malcolm Stuart. Director of Photography, 2nd Unit: Kara Stephens. Assistant Editors: Sasha Freedman, Daniel Horn. Bookkeeper: Kathryn Andrews. Legal Services: Christine Steiner. Voyage of Growth and Discovery Project Development: Sarina Basta. Funding in Part By: West of Rome Public Art, Los Angeles, SculptureCenter, Long Island City, NY. Thanks: Emi Fontana, Founder and Creative Director, West of Rome Public Art; Mary Ceruti, Executive Director, Sculture Center; Joel Singer and The Estate of James Broughton for permission to use audio excerpts from James Broughton's film This Is It; Andy Coolquitt, Bec Stupak, Spike's Vampire Bar, Black Rock City. Additional Music: Flower King of Flies by The Nice.
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