Mary Reid Kelley videos and drawings filled with punning wordplay, Reid Kelley presents her take on the clash between utopian ideologies and the realities of women’s lives in the struggle for liberation and through political strife, wars, and other historical events.
The narrative short films of Mary Reid Kelley often take place during historical moments of social upheaval and war. In her research, Reid Kelley discovered that the female experience of these events was largely lost to the past, eclipsed by a profusion of poetry, literature and art produced by men.
In an effort to pull women from the margins of historical records and textbooks, her work centers around female protagonists such as nurses, prostitutes, and factory workers.
Interweaving historical and literary references, euphemisms, and clever puns within the parameters of rhyming verse, her scripts are both humorous and complex. The result is a delightful manipulation of language that satirizes established social structures while disrupting concepts of logic and reason with its nonsensical qualities.
Adopting a stark black-and-white palette while synthesizing art-historical styles such as Cubism and German Expressionism, Reid Kelley playfully jumbles historical periods such as World War I and France’s Second Empire to trace the ways in which present concerns are rooted in the past.