As part of her continuing retrospective assessment of Feminism, Love Songs is a complex, large-scale installation that examines the political and ideological legacies of the early Anglo and American women's movement of the 1970s. It marks an important turning point in Kelly's career and in Feminist art, reading like an elegiac ode to the movement.
First exhibited at Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany, in 2007, the project observes ideas from two generations of Feminism - firstly, those who came of age in the 1960s, which would include Kelly, and, secondly, those who were born afterwards. In her musings about the activities and conflicts of two eras of Feminist activism, specifically, and the fate of Feminism, generally, Kelly describes her aims with this project, to express what is left "after the specific demands of the moment have faded, and what, if anything, is passed on from one generation to the next."
This installation at Documenta in Kassel was presented in four parts. Within a large rectangular space, its centrepiece appeared, almost magically. Made with her husband, the sculptor Ray Barrie, and called the Multi-Story House, this one-room structure glowed warmly, luring visitors in to peruse archival material that addresses Feminist activism and its place in an intergenerational dialogue. Installed on each of the surrounding gallery walls, respectively, were three supporting component parts describing different important protests and celebrations of the women's movement.
Another retrospective look at Feminism, Love Songs invites us not to forget and raises awareness about the gains of the women's movement by one of the preeminent artists who lead its charge. Yet, Kelly also highlights the ongoing problems that continue to persist. The gender gap has narrowed, but it is still not closed. "Rather than a nostalgic evocation of the 70s," she writes, "this work synthesizes past and present, exploring the ongoing investment of the artist and performers in both the history and current relevance of sexual politics."
Laser cut cast acrylic panels etched with text, wooden frame architectural structure, fluorescent light, glass floor, black-and white film loops, black-and-white transparencies in light boxes, color video