los-angeles

View of “Mary Kelly,” 2012. From left: Mary Kelly and Ray Barrie, Habitus Type I, 2010–12; Mary Kelly, Mimus, Act III, 2012.

Mary Kelly

Rosamund Felsen Gallery

View of “Mary Kelly,” 2012. From left: Mary Kelly and Ray Barrie, Habitus Type I, 2010–12; Mary Kelly, Mimus, Act III, 2012.

In her Post-Partum Document (1973–79), Mary Kelly closely followed her infant son’s acquisition of language, tracing his first written words while simultaneously narrating the conditions under which they appeared. As media studies reminds us, words are a memory-storage technology, and the written word, which organizes its contents into straight lines of historical thought, shapes memory to fit. Whatever does not make the cut is at the crux of Kelly’s ongoing aim to propose an alternate history, and so it makes perfect sense to start the account at this preliminary point, as a record of the record-keeping faculty itself.

This “archaeology of the everyday,” as the Los Angeles–based artist has termed it, proves no less compelling in its findings than the sort of earthshaking events that read well on the walls of natural-history museums. War is perhaps the epitome of the latter, and

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