Catherine Wood, Tate Senior Curator of International Art (Performance) in conversation with artists Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley

Catherine Wood, Senior Curator of International Art at Tate, was joined in conversation by Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley.

The discussion covered the artists’ current exhibition at Studio Voltaire, Rand/Goop, as well as their wider practice.

In Rand/Goop, the artists have created a circular narrative for six totemic video sculptures. The protagonists, all performed by Reid Kelley, speak in pithy and often capricious four–line cento poems. The contents are drawn entirely from two sources. Appraisals of Russian–American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand’s Objectivism philosophies, limited only to evangelist scholars of her work, are spliced with titles of articles listed on the website of Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle, beauty and wellness brand Goop.

Whilst these subjects are seemingly unconnected, Rand’s espousals of individualism or the virtues of selfishness soon begin to resonate with the purchasable wellness offered by Goop. Self care becomes the relentless pursuit of personal betterment, sold as ’10 ways’ to do better, to perform harder. Correspondingly, the artists’ characters speak in anxious, blustery palimpsests that swerve between implied emancipation and fear: ‘Let’s talk about a girls’ only/ Libertarian alternative/ Where no innocence exists/ Without material property’.

The artists’ expansive practice collaboratively combines painting, performance and poetry. Their elaborate monochrome sets are highly stylized, making use of disorienting trompe l’oeil backdrops and models. Their works subvert and burlesque specific historical and mythological narratives. Often set during moments of political or social turbulence, the artists give voice to characters who have slipped through canonical accounts, to meditate on mortality, gender and sex.

This is the final exhibition at Studio Voltaire before the site closes to the public for a period of twelve months whilst the organisation completes The Studio Voltaire Capital Project, during which time a year–long programme of off–site commissions and projects will be presented ahead of Studio Voltaire opening again to the public in Autumn 2020, marking Studio Voltaire’s 25th anniversary.

Rand/Goop is commissioned and produced by Studio Voltaire. Commissioned in association with Forma Arts & Media Limited.

Exhibition Supporters: Pilar Corrias Gallery, Forma Arts & Media Limited, and Henry Moore Foundation.
With kind support from: Harvey Sawkin, Miyoung E Lee, Herb Levitt, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Bruce Menin and Fredericks & Freiser.

Read more about Rand/Goop.


About the contributor

Catherine Wood is Senior Curator in International Art (Performance) at Tate. She was instrumental in founding the performance programme at Tate in 2003 and has since curated more than two hundred live works, both at the museum and within the online space Performance Room which she initiated in 2011.

Wood works on performance projects, exhibitions, collections, having been critical in the acquisition of works by Joan Jonas, Tino Sehgal and Suzanne Lacy among many others, and displays at Tate Modern, as well as being actively engaged in research. In 2015, Catherine curated Mary Reid Kelley, This is Offal, performance at Tate Modern.

About the artists

Mary Reid Kelley (b. USA, 1979) received her BFA from St. Olaf College, Minnesota, and an MFA in Painting from Yale University in 2009. She is the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Grant, has received awards from the American Academy in Rome, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, and the Guggenheim Fellowship. Patrick Kelley (b. USA, 1969)  earned a BFA from St. Olaf College, Minnesota, and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan. His works have been exhibited at the Bibliothèque Publique d’Information–Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art.

Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley have collaborated since 2008. Recent solo exhibitions include: Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley – We Are Ghosts, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool (2017); Mary Reid Kelley, MUDAM Luxembourg (2017); We’re Wallowing Here In Your Disco Tent, The High Line, New York (2016); Mary Reid Kelley, M – Museum Leuven, Leuven (2016); A Marquee Piece of Sod – The WWI Films of Mary Reid Kelley, Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen (2016); Hammer Projects: Mary Reid Kelley, The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2015); Swinburne’s Pasiphae, Pilar Corrias, London (2014); Mary Reid Kelley, Neuer Kunstverein Wien, Vienna (2014); and Mary Reid Kelley, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA), Boston (2013).