Seated watching Mary Reid Kelley’s and Patrick Kelley’s first film in the first room of four rooms at the bunkerish Butler Gallery, silhouettes arrive fluttering at the entrance. Unwilling to place a bigger flutter with their time and taste and fears, they flit away. Unrequited. A pity. As an ex-painter, Mary Reid Kelley well knows that painting et al is always given yet another chance after a history of chances to be accepted or turned down in the gallery; but film in the gallery—not on TV or cinema—is forever met with circumspection, sometimes derision, even disappointment that art is not what it says on our tin. Ironically, the ‘unrequited’ is a thing that Mary and Pat deal with on screen. So this is to you, Mary and Pat, requited.
Where have you been all my art life, Mary and Pat? It seems I've been missing out according to your intimate retrospective at Butler Gallery, Kilkenny. I've seen versions of you in art college minus such attention to detail; experienced you in performances minus your charisma and control; read you in artworks that brave the pencilled tightrope between image and text minus your playful respect for language. Blush. Stitched together, my art experiences—comprised of minuses--------compose you in that monster-under-the-lightning-bolt kind of way. But no monster ever lived up to the fantasy of the monster. In reality, monsters are not fantasies; reality and fantasy never agree in their realisation of each other; they are opposites, diametrically opposed, like childhood ghost and adulthood serial killer. Black and white, reality vs fantasy, your world is beset by binaries, but somehow these binaries are not expressed as either/or or neither/nor. Your world is located somewhere… between, in the hinterland of cartoon and concentration camp, bedtime story and brothel, joy and nihilism, past and present, in a voice, your voice Mary, that creaks of adolescence, of... C o r a l i n e. It's all inappropriately appropriate. A doubled-barrel bludgeoning of fantasy and reality where your monster-subject and fantasy-object conjoin. Ha! A sexually frustrated aviator falls in love (and on his own ‘sword’) with a ballerina pet-named “Camel Toe” and gifts “Camel Toe” a toy that gets closer than he ever will to her namesake, over and over and over again. Ouch! Unrequited. A war-curtained submarine crew distil their obsolescence in drink and Dada to submerge deeper into the depths of fantasy til ‘reality’ comes knocking on their tin can via a TV broadcast from President Truman and the bombing of Hiroshima. Unrequited. But, but, but... the lighting struck on experiencing your metap-her and metony-him of a raw recruit with literary ambitions and evasive manoeuvring from the reality of war and the fantasy of sex as he steps from the safety of his well-read writing desk to the unmade beds of a brothel. She's a “whore of metaphor” your enigmatic Belgian prostitute tells us, you tell us, a literary pin-up and literal contrivance, who, like a cat with a mouse, plays with the raw recruit’s raw recruitments through emotionally detached wordplay dripping with innuendo and dry with experience. Your prostitute’s reality is not composed of words, but Vaseline and foreskin, saline fluid and vajajay. No need to repeat the cento and spolia and drag of your methodology and well-read references, this is expression on repeat, not knowledge, not information. “Expression is all we want... Not Knowledge but vent” (Emerson). Unrequited love, unrequited communication, unrequited redemption, this is not a union of fantasy and reality as the world of metaphor intimates, it's displacement of time, of love, of sex, of language, of power, of woman. Requited.