chapter  11
16 Pages

Exploring Maternal Affective Investments

Mary Kelly’s Post-Partum Document (1973–79) and the Material Narrative of Love
ByJustyna Wierzchowska

This chapter demonstrates that the organizing idea for the installation is 'thirdness'—a concept signifying a reciprocal influence that breaks the subject-object pattern. It employs Jessica Benjamin's approach to the concept; who, contrary to Lacan, presents thirdness as what predates the child's entry into the Symbolic. Drawing on Benjamin's understanding of thirdness, the chapter seeks to analyze Mary Kelly's installation as a platform for representing mothering in terms of experience executed through objects. The emergence of thirdness represented in Kelly's objects is a structured process that requires a detailed and chronological analysis of all six Parts of the installation. As objects of thirdness, they become truly liminal: they only make sense if construed as signs of the affective exchange between the mother and the child, both of them active and creative participants. The exchange not only enhances the process of the child's individualization, but also proves transformative for the mother.