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2022 Gretchen Taylor Millson Lecture

May 23, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Synopsis: The Practical Past

Since the 1970’s, I have been engaged in project-based work that addresses questions of intersectional identity and takes the form of large-scale narrative installations.  My early work initiated a long-term critique of conceptualism, informed by feminism and psychoanalytic theory that has evolved into a specific set of procedures or concerns that I would say define my practice overall: the aniconic image, the narrativization of space and the discursive site. I will take up these concerns in relation to three major projects. Post-Partum Document, 1973-79, a six-part work, incorporating memorabilia, diagrams, and diary narrative that explores the formation of sexual identity in the mother-child relationship; The Ballad of Kastriot Rexhepi, 2001, an installation consisting of a two-hundred foot continuous relief in compressed lint and the live performance of an original score for soprano and string quartet by composer, Michael Nyman, which considers the intersection of sexual and ethnic identity in the traumatic context of war in Kosovo;  The Practical Past, 2017, an exhibition including, Circa Trilogy, three large-scale works in compressed lint with projected light noise, together with three diptychs, News from Home, and a series, 7 Days, which reflect on generational identity and the meaning of an era, not simply concurrent with my lifetime, but also, across time, as a cultural and political legacy shaped by the formative events of 1968.


MARY KELLY Biography

Over the past five decades, Mary Kelly has addressed prescient questions concerning sexuality, identity, and historical memory in her project-based work. Kelly first came to prominence with Post-Partum Document, (1973-1979) a study of the mother-child relationship that provoked a scandal when it was first exhibited in 1976.  Other major works include Interim (1984-89), The Ballad of Kastriot Rexhepi (2001), Love Songs (2005-07) and Circa Trilogy (2004-2017).

Mary Kelly’s solo exhibitions include the ICA, London (1976 and 1993); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1990); Vancouver Art Gallery (1990); Helsinki City Art Museum (1994); Generali Foundation, Vienna (1998); Santa Monica Museum of Art (2001); as well as surveys at the Center for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2008); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2010); and a retrospective, Mary Kelly: Projects, 1973-2010, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2011). Kelly was represented in the Whitney Biennial, (1991 and 2004), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Documenta 12, Kassel (2007); the Biennale of Sydney (1982 and 2008); and the Desert X Biennial (2019).

Kelly’s work is included in numerous public collections, Tate, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum der moderne, Salzburg; MOCA, Los Angeles; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Arts Council Collection, UK; Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź; Zurich Museum; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; The National Gallery, Washington D.C; The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, acquired the Mary Kelly Archive in 2017.

Kelly’s publications include Post-Partum Document, (1983), Imaging Desire, (1996), Rereading Post-Partum Document, (1999), and Dialogue, (2011). She was awarded a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (2015) and gave the Elson Lecture at The National Gallery (2020). She has Honorary Doctorates from Wolverhampton University (2004) Lund University (2017) and University of the Arts Helsinki (2018). Currently, she is Judge Widney Professor, Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California.

For more on Mary Kelly, visit her website: marykellyartist.com


May 23, 2022
5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Department of Art History at UCLA