Mary Reid Kelley & Patrick Kelley’s fantastical personalities come to life within their drawn portraits and video art. Their black and white palettes are saturated with the contrast within the images and are almost cartoon-like with sharp edges and graphic narratives. This exhibit is composed of two of the artists’ most iconic films and eccentric picture-like drawings. This couple creates a fantasy world through their art and invites us to open our minds to the horrors of gender inequalities. The video-art by the artists largely deals with issues of feminism, shedding light in historical and social disparities in the way gender is perceived and how it affects judgement.
The Rape of Europa tells the story of a woman, Europa, played by the artist, who narrates the experience of her rape. Her nonchalant attitude is interrupted by clips of Mary Reid playing different female characters who played significant roles in history. The rhymed narration of Europa’s experience and the stories being told to her touch on the brutality of the disernments against women’s sexuality. The Rape of Europa by imfamous Roman painter, Titian, tells the tale of a young woman who was abducted and empragnated by Zeus because of her curiosity and her allure to his facade as a bull. The film begins and Mary Reid Kelley’s playful rendition of the character awakens and wonders where all the leaves in her hair came from, she nonchalantly ponders about her whereabouts, and states how she hopes she is not pregnant. Each interruption enlightens Europa and provides the audience with a narrative that is very much lost in the original legend. Kelley humanizes Europa, declares a woman and above all else a woman. Her attitude grows stronger and angrier, mirroring the history of feminism. The artist’s character development truly provides an insight on the experience of rape in relation to the history of wome’s place in society, through poetic devices and costume, the artist provides comedic relief, a tool used to help the understanding of strenuous topics.
In the show’s second video, Rand/Goop, 2022, each personality is defined by their strange cartoonish characteristics. Rather than a narrative, this piece relies on the concentration of the audience. Six personas enclosed in a simplified representation of a television. We receive a constant stream of information from the six characters, each a critique of society. As the caricatured screens continue to speak, the viewer becomes overwhelmed by the talk of politics and social constructs of beauty and lifestyle that remain prevalent in our everyday lives. In an age of media, the general public is truly exposed through media sources to the point where one becomes desensitized to the material. Using her signature costumes, she brings her words to our attention, the use of the rendering of screens mimic our quotidian experience of relying on technology to obtain our news. Each speech begins with big, overwhelming expressions, and continues to describe ways in which these phenomena affect and motivate the ways we participate in ordinary day-to-day activities.
Patrick and Mary Reid Kelley bring attention to social issues that seem to be swept under the rug, her youthful personas aid to the understanding of the matters. There is a focus on issues of feminism and approaching it in stereotypically womanly attitudes, again shedding light on ideas of how social construct affect perceptions of gender.
Unrefined Verbiage will be on display in the Fredericks & Freiser gallery at 536 West 24th Street in New York from May 12th to June 11th, 2022.