From October Files
Essays and interviews that span Mary Kelly's career highlight the artist's sustained engagement with feminism and feminist history.
When Mary Kelly's best-known work, Post-Partum Document (1973–1979), was shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in 1976, it caused a sensation—an unexpected response to an intellectually demanding and aesthetically restrained installation of conceptual art. The reception signaled resistance to the work's interrogation of feminine identity and the cultural mythologizing of motherhood. This volume of essays and interviews begins with this foundational work, offering an early statement by the artist, a subsequent interview, and an essay situating the work within a broader broader discourse of art and social purpose in the early 1970s. Throughout, the collection addresses such themes as labor, war, trauma, and the politics of care, while emphasizing the artist's sustained engagement with histories of feminism and generations of feminists.
The contributions also consider such specific works as Kelly's Interim (1984–1989), the subject of a special issue of October; Gloria Patri (1992), an installation conceived in response to the first Gulf War; The Ballad of Kastriot Rexhepi (2001), an extensive project including a 200-foot narrative executed in the medium of compressed lint and the performance of a musical score by Michael Nyman; and two recent works, Love Songs (2005-2007), which explores the role of memory in feminist politics, and Mimus (2012), a triptych that parodies the House Un-American Activities Committee's 1962 investigation of the pacifist group, Women Strike for Peace.
Essays and Interviews by Parveen Adams, Emily Apter, Rosalyn Deutsche, Hal Foster, Margaret Iversen, Mary Kelly, Helen Molesworth, Laura Mulvey, Mignon Nixon, Griselda Pollock, Paul Smith