Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mary Reid Kelley, The Syphilis Of Sisyphus @ Fredericks & Freiser Gallery

Okay now, my interests tend to by rather specific (photography, baseball, hardcore, professional wrestling and rap), so things like architecture, foreign languages and poetry tend to be a little out of my comfort zone. That being said, Mary Reid Kelley is badass.

Nature sold me a lie,
And I’ve kept the deceit
Oh my face to remind me:
Her falsehoods repeat
Like the seasons renew.
Same advice every time,
Because Nature can counsel me
Nothing but crime.

As best as I can tell, Kelly is creating and starring in a low-fi, live-action art video of a fictional 19th century cartoon strip, written as a long-form poem set in Paris. I tend to get a little lost in the pleasure of listening to poetry, so the finer meanings can at times escape me, but it seems Kelly is taking on femininity, art, French history, and higher education, while imbuing the poetry, and mannered black and white world with a certain rebellious humor that certainly fits the period of French history but feels sneakily very modern.

I remember seeing some earlier work at Site Santa Fe, and the backdrops of the video seemed less like a green screen than it does here, but that is a small objection to what is otherwise a striking visual world. Even with the use of a green screen, the video is utterly impressive. With the set design, acting, poetry, and just overall content, its an ambition that seems to be utterly missing from say Gursky’s eight pictures at Gagosian or the 100th show of Uta Barth’s pictures of light hitting light things. That said, I’d be psyched if we get to see Mary Reid Kelly continue on so long that her work becomes as bloated and as useless as Gursky’s or Barth’s.

The Toilette is noble!
But taste’s in the toilet.
If Art is a carrot,
The masses will boil it
To jelly, while praising
It’s crunch and suggesting
I eat it! I’d rather eat shit
And Die Jesting!

And ah men to that.

Through Jan 7th 
Fredericks & Freiser Gallery (536 W 24th St. Btw. 10th & 11th Aves.)


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