Mary Reid Kelley

This Is Offal

Mary Reid Kelley, ‘This Is Offal’, Performance Room. Video still.

Mary Reid Kelley, ‘This Is Offal’, Performance Room. Video still.

Thursday 19 November 2015

‘This Is Offal’ at Tate Modern

11pm / KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, with Berliner Festspiele / Foreign Affairs / In English and Portuguese / Duration 45min.

Mary Reid Kelley’s This Is Offal is 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.

Performance Room is a series of performances commissioned and conceived using online space as its primary medium. The performances themselves take place at Tate Modern but are filmed and broadcast live via YouTube to be experienced by an audience worldwide. The performance is followed by a Q&A with the curator Catherine Wood at 08:32 including questions and comments from the audience received via Tate's YouTube, Twitter and Facebook profiles.

Live streamed from Tate Modern at Thursday 19 November 2015, 20.00 (GMT) exclusively to audiences online. Part of the series BMW Tate Live 2015: Performance Room.