Mary Kelly’s recent work at Rosamund Felsen Gallery frames an epoch — the period from World War II through the Cold War — in a few shrewd conceptual strokes, employing as she often has in her work, the voice of the individual bystander as a mirror to the broader forces of history.
At the center of the show is a pair of stark freestanding sculptures, both titled “Habitus” and made in collaboration with Kelly’s husband, Ray Barrie, that are based on bomb shelters developed in London during the Blitz.
One, designed for backyards, is domed; the other, designed for the home, is roughly the size of a dining room table. Both are inscribed with laser-cut text recounting first-person memories of individuals born at or around the time of the war, with a mirrored floor that reflects the text upward.
Between the visual reverberation of the sometimes wrenching text and the anthropomorphic scale of the structures, which are just big enough to contain a family, the works leave one with a palpable sense of the personal dimension (physical as well as emotional) of geopolitical anxiety.