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 Carolee Schneeman  (1939 - )

About: Carolee Schneeman


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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: installation, performance-female issues

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Image as (2)
2001 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
From the London Guardian

Robert Clark
Monday March 5, 2001

The enduring image is of the naked artist reading a text from a long scroll that she unfurls from her vagina.  Carolee Schneemann performed Interior Scroll over 25 years ago.  All we are presented with here are two photographic images of the event, but they are images that define a significant moment in feminist art history.

Schneemann's anti-life-class pose contributed to bringing several centuries of passive cultural acceptance of the idealized female nude to an end.  After that, it seemed plain ridiculous for a circle of men to sit down and size up a reclining nude woman in the name of art.

Emerging from the experimental artworld of 1960s New York, Schneemann
developed a reputation as a shamanistic gorgon-headed she-devil whose rage against female misrepresentation was conducted at a level of infectious magic that had no time for the academic perspectives of the sexual politician.  A series of photographs of Up To And Including Her Limits, an eight-hour performance from 1975, shows the naked artist dangling precariously from a rope and surrounded by walls teeming with scrawled insectile fragments.  The nightmare goes into bad-trip overload with the specially commissioned installation More Things Wrong, a convoluted maze of cables and flickering video footage of executions, demolitions, de-forestations and cats toying cruelly with their victims.

More focused is Vulva's Morphia, a set of 36 painted laser prints of vulval images. The in-your-face up-front rudeness of the imagery is balanced by a bitterly ironic text: "Vulva recognizes the symbols and names on graffiti under the railroad: slit, snatch, enchilada, beaver, muff, coozie, fish and finger pie . . . Vulva deciphers Lacan and Baudrillard and discovers she is only a sign, a signification of the void, of absence, of what is not male . . . (she is given a pen for taking notes)".

Typically the images are all daubed and smeared. Schneemann trained as a
painter and it shows. She gets into an alarming but potent mess of moral
ambiguities and emotional ambivalences. She gets her hands and mind and body dirty with it all. She doesn't argue from a perspective of analytical
detachment; she demonstrates from a position of engagement. Like kindred
spirit hell raiser Diamanda Galas, there is nothing cool, clean or correct
about this artist, politically or otherwise.

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