Philadelphia

Mary Kelly

McNeil Gallery

Mary Kelly works on a remarkably ambitious scale. Corpus, completed in 1985 and shown here in its entirety, is only the first section of her ongoing Interim project. Begun in 1983, Interim focuses on the experiences of middle-aged women, a heretofore rather ignored segment of our society, through a planned exploration of four themes: body, money, history, and power.

Corpus’ formal and conceptual complexity demands careful description, as there are no insignificant details in Kelly’s work. It consists of 30 paired panels of image and text, arranged in five groups, three pairs to a group. The five groups correspond to the five attitudes passionelles that the 19th-century neuropathologist J. M. Charcot observed in his studies of female hysterics: Menacé, Appel, Supplication, Erotisme, and Extase (threat, appeal, supplication, eroticism, and ecstasy). In the black-framed image panels, each of

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