Mary Kelly, Mimus: Act I, 2012, compressed lint, 83 1/2 x 61 x 2".

Mary Kelly


Mary Kelly, Mimus: Act I, 2012, compressed lint, 83 1/2 x 61 x 2".

Mary Kelly’s first solo show in New York since 2005 was an occasion, though the work deviated not a jot from the Conceptualist-feminist trajectory established by the artist in the 1970s. Visually, the affect was cool, perfect—a mood contrasting, deliberately, with the works’ approach to issues of violence, memory, and the power of the voice. This conundrum of clinical austerity enframing messy intergenerational feeling hinges on what Kelly calls “the political primal scene.” How and when do we develop historical desire? What trauma exposes our sociopolitical origins?

Four items were on view. Mimus: Act I, Mimus: Act II, and Mimus: Act III, all 2012, are framed assemblages, roughly body-size; Habitus: Type I, 2010, a collaboration with sculptor Ray Barrie (Kelly’s husband of many years), is a freestanding construction in acrylic sheeting, wood, and mirrored glass. Each work,

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