New York

Mary Kelly


Mary Kelly’s Mea Culpa, 1999, gave the initial impression of being one long, thin gray banner extending entirely around the perimeter of the vast front gallery. In fact, like a film strip that breaks down into shorter segments, the work comprises four separate panels, one for each wall of the exhibition space. Each part is further divided into four sections and displays, against a white matte background, sixteen to twenty swags of light gray material. Uniformly shaped but tonally variegated, the draped material seems soft and ephemeral, like clouds seen through the window of an airplane. The unusual substance Kelly used to produce this effect is compressed lint, into which she embedded a narrow strip of block type. The letters form words, and the words, like exceptionally graphic news stories, narrate horrific stories of war trauma and victimization. “She watched soldiers in a rice paddy

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