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FROM WOMEN'S WORK TO THE UMBILICAL LENS: MARY KELLY'S EARLY FILMS

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Abstract:

This essay presents a historical and theoretical account of Mary Kelly's formative involvement in experimental filmmaking in Britain during the early- to mid-1970s. The argument develops by tracing the complex interconnections between Kelly's political engagement with Marxist-feminism and her theoretical involvement with psychoanalysis and film theory. After discussing Kelly's participation in the Berwick Street Film Collective's Night Cleaners (1975) and the London Women's Film Group's Women of the Rhondda (1973), I present a sustained close reading of the artist's first solo work, the film loop installation Antepartum (1974). I argue that Antepartum interpellates the spectator into a feminine subject position. This reading of the film draws upon recent post-Lacanian feminist scholarship in philosophical ethics that focuses on the intrauterine relation. Antepartum offers a politically informed aesthetic experiment that prefigures some of these insights.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8365.2008.00582.x

Affiliations: College of Staten Island/CUNY in New York City

Publication date: February 1, 2008

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