Re-viewing Feminist Influences in Transnational Art: A Multimodal, Fugal Analysis of Mary Kelly’s Texts of ‘Maternal Desire’

By Ruth Skilbeck.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The 1970s women’s art movement is a foundational influence in transnational contemporary art. Developing an innovative, multimodal, fugal approach the paper discusses the formative influence of American feminist conceptual artist Mary Kelly’s representations of ‘the intricacies of maternal desire,’ in her work based on her own experience of parturition. The discussion focuses on an interview with Mary Kelly and artist son Kelly Barrie by Ruth Skilbeck at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 2008 Sydney Biennale, and includes her photographs of Kelly and Barrie within their collaborative video installation Antepartum 1973 and Astralfields and Other Manifestations 2008, exhibited at the Biennale. With reference to early pieces including Post-Partum Document 1972-78, the paper argues that not only are Kelly’s works highly significant in their own right, radically bringing together conceptual art and feminist self-based narrative art; as constitutive, canonical texts of the 1970s women’s art movement, they initiated new multimodal forms of contemporary art and modes of dialogic textual expression that have formatively influenced the development of contemporary art and its intergenerational, social and cultural communication in transnational culture.

Keywords: Feminist Conceptual Art, Psychoanalysis and Art, Transnational Contemporary Art, Art Criticism

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.15-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.611MB).

Dr. Ruth Skilbeck

Lecturer, Department of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Ruth Skilbeck, PhD, is an arts critic, writer and researcher. She has a BA Hons in Philosophy from the University of London, an MA in Writing and a PhD on the Writer’s Fugue (critical and cultural theory) from the University of Technology, Sydney. For the past five years she has researched and lectured in creative practice and social inquiry at UTS. Current research interests include multimodality, feminist psychoanalytic theory and creative practice.


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