Mary Kelly

Post-Partum Document. Analysed Markings And Diary Perspective Schema (Experimentum Mentis III: Weaning from the Dyad) 1975 by Mary Kelly born 1941


This piece, this installation, is a diary. Diary of Mary Kelly’s relationship with her son as he grows up. Kelly is exploring important issues regarding life as a mother, a woman, a person, a relationship, societies attitudes. Her work is psychological and a personal narrative to her life as a woman in society, becoming a mother and her son growing up.

During this period the second wave of feminism was taking place, alongside a number of female artists such as Marina Abromovic, Judy Chicago, Barbra Kruger. While many feminist artists were trying to fight the objectification of women and emphasise the important female role models that history has ignored, Mary Kelly’s art concentrated on the understated daily routine of a woman- motherhood.

The set up of Kelly’s work is significant to her concept as well as the content;

As an installation within a traditional gallery space, the work subscribes to certain modes of presentation; the framing, for example, parodies a familiar type of museum display in so far as it allows my archaeology of everyday life to slip unannounced into the great hall and ask impertinent questions of its keepers…”

Post-Partum Document, by Mary Kelly (page xx)

Inside the clean, white frames that are typical of ‘art’ are controversial images of stained nappies and personal interactions.

“Both refer to Post-Partum Document as parodying the seriousness of the hallowed space of exhibition by forcing attention to a certain absurdity of the frame. Kelly is able to demonstrate the power of the frame as a signifier of art as a category by placing unexpected content within the frame: both highly personal objects and esoteric forms of knowledge -Mary Kelly’s Post-Partum Document by Vanessa Thill November 2012”

Kelly is documenting her experiences, her intimate moments with her son and those moments of motherhood that were not openly discussed – her use of the frame is almost mocking the stereotypical gallary and what is constituted as art. I THINK??


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