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Mary Reid Kelly

Mary Reid Kelly - Performance Room BMW Tate Live Nov 20 2015


Mary Reid Kelley, in collaboration with her partner Patrick Kelley, presented a new work 'This is Offal', inspired by Thomas Hood’s 1844 poem The Bridge of Sighs in which the narrator laments the apparent suicide of a young woman, whose body he pulls from the Thames.

Black and White film

The scene begins with an overhead view of a body on a autopsy table, we can only see the lower half of the body from the knees down, and half the table it lays on. The table is painted white and in greys and black to illustrate that it is an autopsy table, the blood splatters painted on, and a drain also painted on. The floor below is black with a white grid to suggest tiles. The legs on the table are all painted in black and white, the flesh painted white with black lines painted on to show dark areas, and details like muscle and bone tones, and stubble on the legs. In this beginning we see the arms of who can be presumed to be the autopsy operator, writing 18/44 on a tag connected to the right foots big toe. On the other foot is a a slingback high heel pump with a bow on the top. The operator moves around the body with scissors, also painted in black and white. As this happens a digital collaged section of film appears in the dark area on the right foot, it is a human mouth painted also in white with black lips. The mouth says

You asked me once, was it boring? spending all day with the flooring? Its so pedestrian you said, You have not standing without me head! I hold you up, and its quite a burden to hold your mouth up and never gt a word in, you think i sleep walk, but my soul is woken, you say don’t speak but now i put my spoke in, i walked us to the bridge you told me Go! I don’t ask why Its not my job to know, my heels clicked forward, i did not ask why when you make the order…. what cranium could be so callus and treat a foot with such malice! The mouth sobs…

The operator is cutting off the clothing while this happens,

Camera move up the torso and table and the clothes are cut off to

reveal another section -  a thigh

and another mouth, the thigh - yelling at the foot to shut up, its angry, “i’m not a sandwich crust! I told you to beware of brain trust, i’m so betrayed right now i’m on a platter, a herrings lunch, a poets subject matter”

Mouth grimaces at the camera

Camera moves up and we see the guts, stomach and heart all collaged in from 3 shots of the artists head, speaking further prose

Heart - How much longer do i have to listen

to this moaning to this pissing

I don’t blame anyone for wanting out i don’t blame clumsy feet or hungry trout, I don’t blame the head she had it hard she also had a donor card, any minute they’ll come and snag me, their surgeons with their plastic baggie

Stomache - Were you in the Thames with us or in denial? We’ve gone tits up like Cleopatra minus snakes, and dignity and dryness at least this carnage is a respite from the thrills of metabolising booze and pills. No one liked you head you were always crying I’m chopped liver so you made hash of drying

Heart - Get your pancreas out of a twist, i think i hear my cardiologist, he’s coming with a sterile igloo cooler ….. the head must not have released what’s at stake, my genius can’t be snuffed by her mistake

Stomache What are you the Beethoven of  organs!

H:I’m the heart of the matter!

S:You’re the VP of Gore

H:You’re the pollock of splatter

S: You’re a funny smelling valentine

H: You’re not fit for frankensteins

Guts: I smell too, i’ve never had the rank of leader I’ve always been a bottom feeder, i’m the raw deal, the goose that’s cooked, but see the light now the stomaches burst, the shit faced and the overlooked, i ate filth and was in filth submersed, i stink there for I am!

This is Offal! This is Offal head!

This is Offal! This is True!

In this theatre in the drowned

But head how did you make this holy mess, now that your guts are spilled confess

I don’t tell to have you anything, if a bell tolled then i told it ring, i turned the light on and i can dark it and i don’t need help from my own meat market. When i was lonely where were you?

It was praise i feed on

How round the world look when it flattered me,

Dump her, dump her in the river like a jumper sweater

Silence for you would be better

What an unruly crowd you’d be

I regret, Juliet

I feel ya, Ophelia

You tried to do good but your resolution cracked

I trie to make a difference but

Us underwater girls are doomed to shiver wishing to be pulled from nameless river

Is this the Danube?, the Yankee?, the Thames? This is the river that the boatman picks, you can’ be pulled from it because it sticks.

Discussion: MRK works with texts where the females voice is missing and works to replace the voice not heard in these works.

This poem, a friend of Charles Dickens, and like Dickens wanting to bring light to the injustices of the time.

The problem of suicides throwing themselves off bridges in London.

The poem is to try and bring light to the humanity of the person, and not a disposable person.

The suicide victim may have been pregnant and unmarried, which would have been a really bad thing in the Victorian time.

Christian era to not think of women like her as disgusting

In Hoods poem, he speculates about why the character

In art it is the artists job to give a sense of why the character might have committed suicide, we didn’t do that either - but emphasised the sense that she was confused.

Turned around this very morbid subject

Punning and compressed language,

Psychological conflict playing out in the body

Live and pre-recorded collage

Like a weather report might do

Embalming table

Black and white paint ‘dance macabre’ a form of painting?

We think of it as a drawing… reporter says Drawing???

MRK: The line between drawing and painting is very smeary

The restriction to black and white (restriction rather than limitation) allows us to explore a type of graphicness, which meshes well with the punchiness of the jokes and the very insistent meter and rhyme and the language.

Meshing with a formalised visual language, part cartoon, part drawing

Is it reduction or hand madness?

It looks handmade cause it is handmade, and we like making it by hand, we like solving problems with our hands

Not an intentional style just from a desire to work with our hands.

Form of an iambic pentameter and exquisite puns another layer to the visual constructions

Thomas Woods, part hommage/part criticism

Social Justice poems


Thomas Hood - comic poetry

James Joyce -

Marcel Duchamp -

> How important is the performance of gender in this work?

I’m often inspired by the work of older poets, which means they are often men,

Charles Bauldillare

Poe - yet somewhat of a misoginyst

How do you make the most poetic subject in the world - it has to be the most beautiful and the most tragic - a dead woman - the ultimate passivity and to play with that, tickle it and kick it.

Bringing back the home and giving them a voice.

Women’s history has traditionally been more fragile than mens

Should the view imagine themselves in a dream like state?

The only thing you can put in there is imagination, or a little bit of research and a little bit of imagination