Collaborators since 2008, Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley are best known for their films featuring a signature black-and-white palette, punning wordplay, carefully designed costumes, and custom sets. Through their intuitive filmmaking, Mary and Patrick create intricately crafted parallel universes. With their incisive wit, acrobatic approach to language, and bold cinematic choices, the artists lure us into their darkly humorous narratives and destabilize any familiar sense of reality. Together the couple oversee all aspects of bringing these films to life, as the works feature original verse composed and acted out onscreen by Mary—often in multiple roles—while Patrick acts as cinematographer, director, and post-production editor.
During their residency at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Mary and Patrick’s collaboration with the museum staff allowed them to expand the scale of their production and explore new forms of making. FWM staff collaborated with the artists on the making of masks, props, and costumes—complete with custom spider-print yardage designed by the couple as well as a to-scale dummy replica of Mary’s body. The latter invention enabled the artist to act opposite herself, allowing for new levels of onscreen physical interaction between their characters.
Their resulting exhibition, Blood Moon, was an immersive experience with two central films, video projections, and totem sculptures. The films’ characters—all played by Mary—grapple with pervasive violence, abuse of power, gender roles, and the unreliable re-telling of history. The first film, the titular Blood Moon, explores interpersonal relationships and, what initially seems to be an exchange between two lovers, turns into a twisted and gruesome end. The second film, I’m Jackson Pollock, is a nonsense poem as monologue that explores the mechanics of power, fame, capitalistic gain, and individualism. Inspired by the strength of the objects made with the studio, Mary and Pat opted to foreground the costumes and props in a surreal and empty set, returning to the rudimentary backdrops of their early films.