Mary Reid Kelley | This Is Offal
ART BASEL STATEMENTS 2016
The project for Art Basel Statements 2016 features a new film by Mary Reid Kelley, This Is Offal. The film is installed and accompanied by two lightbox portraits of characters from the film, the script by Mary Reid Kelley in booklet form, and a selection of sculptural objects used in the film.
This Is Offal traverses in tragicomic form the most grave and enduring of human disasters: suicide. In the film, a pathologist uncovers and examines the body of a woman, whose own organs speak their confusion, discontent, and misunderstanding of her suicide in a riotous wordplay-filled dialogue. The actual speakers in the drama, the liver, stomach, intestines and other organs, signify the “offal” of the film’s title and the “awful” irrevocability of the act which they protest.
By enacting Camus’ philosophy of the absurd as a counter to suicide, This Is Offal also powerfully satirizes a long fascination with the beautiful, dead, silent woman as the subject of art -- from innumerable examples in Victorian poetry to contemporary autopsy-centric television shows. The female body in This Is Offal is decidedly un-silent, yet as her own organs argue over what happened, they also deny the hope of a rational, scientific explanation for the most tragic and motivationally complex of human actions.
The development of and research for This Is Offal was supported by an initial live performance at Tate Modern as part of their Performance Room BMW series that took place in November 2015. The subsequent film, to be premiered at Art Basel Statements, resonates thematically with the live performance, borrowing parts of the live-script, yet is a wholly distinct work in a different medium incorporating significant new elements such as animation and additional characters.