Made up to look like black and white drawings, the protagonists in Mary Reid Kelley’s videos speak in a constant, densely allusive patter. This approach worked swimmingly in her 2010 show at Susanne Vielmetter, which featured two videos that looked at the darker side of early modernism. The stark, stylized appearance of those works perfectly evoked stripped-down modern aesthetics.
Her latest efforts — in collaboration with her partner, Patrick Kelley — are less taut and more expansive. Their effect, while equally beguiling, is more diffuse.
“Priapus Agonistes,” is a retelling of the Minotaur story from Greek mythology. In the Kelleys’ hands, the monster is a woman and the tale becomes an allegory of the suppression of female agency.
As cocky, one-eyed volleyball player Priapus (the work is rife with suggestive puns) sets off to conquer the Minotaur, our sympathies lie with the beast, a lonely, hapless half-breed trapped in a labyrinth of her mother’s making.