"Mary Kelly: Interim"
February 16 - April 8 1990

Main Gallery

Interim (1984 - 1989) is one of Mary Kelly's most ambitious projects, first shown as a complete work in this exhibition. Each of the four parts engages with a particular institutional discourse: fiction, fashion, and medicine in Corpus; the family in Pecunia; the media in Historia; and social science in Potestas. These pieces interact in specific ways within the institutions of art, the museum especially, which are fundamentally split between the demands of education, on the one hand, and those of entertainment, on the other.

"The difference between the social construction of woman-as-object and how she experiences herself in relation to this construction is at the heart of Kelly's ambitious project.

"The voice—of God, Legislator, Father—knows what it likes, and what Women should like, too. It speaks to women prescriptively, with an authority no one else could possibly have, or would dare to presume. Mary Kelly's Interim means to upset and displace this voice and its seductive logic. As she says, 'The question I want to raise is, What is a woman?' Unlike the Good Housekeeping ads though, she doesn't pretend to have the answer. Instead, her work is deliberately structured to encourage viewers to ask themselves some fundamental questions: How do we know who we are? How is our subjectivity—what we believe ourselves to be—constituted in and by the social order? And finally, who is doing the constituting?"

New Museum curator
Courtesy the artist and New Museum, New York