Mary Reid Kelley

This Is Offal


This Is Offal traverses in tragicomic form the most serious and persistent of human disasters: suicide. In the setting of a nocturnal pathology classroom, a pathology professor prepares a new corpse for dissection, hypothesizing about her life and death. In parallel, the corpse herself rises from her embalming table to observe her new situation, while her internal organs and body parts speak their confusion, discontent, and misunderstanding of her suicide in a riotous wordplay-filled dialogue. As the actual speakers in the drama, her liver, heart, and brain signify the “offal” of the film’s title and the “awful” irrevocability of death.

A pun-filled work of existentialist feminist horror, This Is Offal enacts in macabre fashion Camus’ philosophy of the absurd as a counter to suicide. The performance also satirizes an enduring fascination with the beautiful, dead, silent woman as subject for art. 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, unified explanation for the most tragic and motivationally complex of human actions. The first version of This Is Offal was streamed as an online performance as part of Tate Modern’s Performance Room. Subsequently, a longer performance for a live audience was produced by Playground and co-produced by KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berliner Festspiele / Foreign Affairs.

This Is Offal is commissioned and produced by Playground (STUK Kunstencentrum & M-Museum, Leuven) and co-produced by KW Institute for Contemporary Art with Berliner Festspiele / Foreign Affairs.