Even after a day, words still fail to accurately describe Mike Kelley’s Day is Done. The concept is simple enough; photos from high school yearbooks serve as the starting point for filmed Projective Reconstructions. The source material seem mundane but characters in Halloween costumes discus the relative merits of Gene Simmons, Garth Brooks and R. Kelly, a zombie laments his tireless undead wandering, a shy Satanist confesses that she is one of God’s mistakes, Nazi bikers rap about enjoying sex with fat Catholic women. The result is at turns baffling, hilarious, inspired, and at three hours long, tiring but well worth the effort it requires.
Day is Done seems foremost a child of Dada; the seemingly random scene changes, absurd situations, strange characters, and bawdy humor are old but effective tricks. The everyday is revealed as absurd, not so much because of the situations that arise in the film, but by the fact that each of these situations is based on something that actually happened. Indeed the most surreal part of the film for me was the inclusion of the original yearbook photos as the credits rolled
As I sat watching the credits, I found myself trying to understand the original context behind the photos and began to remember that the world around me is always absurd, but it often passes by without notice. Day is Done brings to sharp focus our human ability (possibly our need) to normalize the bizarre; the longer I sit with it the more it becomes just something I’ve witnessed, another abnormal step in a normal day.