Tate Modern Performance

BMW Tate Live: Performance Room – Mary Reid Kelley This Is Offal

Mary Reid Kelley film still

Delve into the many layers of the body in this live performance

Mary Reid Kelley presents a new work inspired by Thomas Hood’s 1844 poem The Bridge of Sighs in which the narrator laments the apparent suicide of a young woman, whose body he pulls from the Thames.

This Is Offal traverses in tragicomic form the most serious and persistent of human disasters: suicide. In the performance, a pathologist uncovers and examines the body of a woman, whose own organs speak their confusion, discontent, and misunderstanding of her suicide in a riotous wordplay-filled dialogue. As the actual speakers in the drama, the liver, stomach, intestines and other organs signify the 'offal' of the film’s title and the 'awful' irrevocability of the act, which they protest. 

By enacting Camus’ philosophy of the absurd as a counter to suicide, This Is Offal also satirizes a long fascination with the beautiful, dead, silent woman as subject for art: from innumerable examples in Victorian poetry to contemporary autopsy-centric television shows. The female body in This Is Offal is decidedly un-silent, yet as her own organs argue over what happened, they also deny the hope of a rational, scientific explanation for the most tragic and motivationally complex of human actions.Mary Reid Kelley, October 2015.

Reid Kelley combines painting, performance, and her distinctive poetry in polemical and stylized videos. Made in collaboration with her partner, Patrick Kelley, her videos have been exhibited at the Hammer Museum, the ICA Boston, the Neuer Kunstverein Wien, and SITE Santa Fe. She is the recipient of the 2011 Rome Prize, the 2013 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and the 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship. Reid Kelley lives and works in upstate New York. 

Watch live online and Join in the conversation at #performanceroom

Streamed live across the world

Performance Room is a series of performances streamed live across the world via Tate’s website and YouTube Channel. Tune in on Thursday nights at 20:00 (GMT) from 19 November – 10 December and see performances by Mary Reid Kelley, Otobong Nkanga, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa and Michael Smith streamed live to you.

The global online audience is invited to join the online performance space via YouTube, and encouraged to chat with other viewers via social media channels during the performance and to put questions to the artist or curator for the live Q&A following the performance.

Each performance is then archived and available to view online after the event. Watch Performance Room 2012, Performance Room 2013, or Performance Room 2014.

Join in the conversation at #PerformanceRoom

Commissioned and produced as part of Corpus, network for performance practice. Corpus is Bulegoa z/b (Bilbao), CAC Vilnius, KW (Berlin), If I Can’t Dance (Amsterdam), Playground (STUK & M, Leuven), and Tate Modern (London; as part of BMW Tate Live). Corpus is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Tate Modern

London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

19 November 2015 at 20.00–21.00

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With thanks to