This month there are a fantastic crop of programs showcasing the work of Carolee Schneemann, a feminist pioneer, and one of the most influential film and performance artists of the 1960s and 1970s. Early in her career, Schneemann was a protégé of experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, whose signature style of scratching film emulsion and choppy editing inspired Schneemann’s films like Fuses (1965) and Kitsch’s Last Meal (1973-76). But issues of the body and female subjectivity are always more central to Schneemann’s art than mere technical prowess. Schneemann became one of the first woman artists to articulate and eroticize her own body on film, while affirming the everlasting statement of feminist discourse: “the personal is political.” This is something Schneemann has always achieved with attitude and a fierce sense of individuality. If you’re in Boston, you can see a screening of Fuses and Kitsch’s Last Meal, as well as Plumb Line (1968-71) at the MassArt Film Society on November 20th. Meanwhile PERFORMA 07 has organized a comprehensive multi-program film retrospective that includes both the classics and some more recent installation works, plus a FREE conversation with Schneemann herself on November 7th.
We mentioned earlier that the Pierre Menard Gallery is celebrating Schneemann with an exhibition titled Carolee Schneemann: a selection of recent and early work. Curated by artist Heide Hatry, early works is just that, a collection of paintings, collages, photographs, and performance footage. Look for Schneemann’s beautifully assembled box constructions (made out of materials such as old photographs, mirrors, paint, strips of cloth, feathers, and bones) which anticipate her later performance work. Soon after creating these objects, Schneemann began using her body as an extension of her paintings and constructions in works such as Eye Body (1963) and Meat Joy (1964), two performances that challenge the standard images of women as powerful agents rather than simple objects in art history.
On Sunday, November 4th, beginning at 4 pm, at Studio Soto there will be a program dedicated to Schneemann’s impact on the art of contemporary feminist performance artists that will include performances by Heide Hatry, Mari Novotny-Jones, and Theresa Byrnes. Like Schneemann, Byrnes’ work is often characterized by critics as ‘body art’–a term that describes how artists will use their bodies as a literal canvas for enabling political or social commentary. This notion is punctuated by Byrnes’ in one of her most recent piece’s called Trace (2007), a performance in which Byrnes submerged herself in a vat of crude oil, and then spent 30 minutes cleaning herself of the thick substance in front of a crowd of spectators on a New York sidewalk. In Boston, Byrnes will be performing a new work titled Theresa Tree, a piece that she writes us is based on a question from her childhood: “What is the difference between me and a tree?” A worthwhile investigation indeed.
Boston’s Carolee Schneemann events…
Sunday, November 4th at 4pm. After the Orgy: A Tribute to Carolee Schneemann. Curated by Jed Speare and Michelle Handelman, in conjunction with the exhibition, Carolee Schneemann: a selection of recent and early work at Pierre Menard Gallery through November 25. With performances by Heide Hatry, Theresa Byrnes and Mari Novotny-Jones, and films by Lydia Eccles, Jesse Jagtiani, Michelle Handelman and Luther Price. Followed by a panel discussion with the artists. At Studio Soto. See the Studio Soto website for more details.
Tuesday, November 20th at 8pm: Carolee Schneemann: a Film Tribute featuring a screening of Fuses, Plumbline, and Kitch’s Last Meal. Shown and introduced by Saul Levine. At Mass. College of Art, MassArt Film Society. See the MassArt Film Society website for more details.
New York’s Carolee Schneemann events as part of PERFORMA 07…
Remains To Be Seen: New and Restored Films and Videos of Carolee Schneemann. Programs in Remains to Be Seen include: An Artist Talk & Screening on Wednesday, November 7th at 6pm. FREE. At Electronic Arts Intermix. Restorations & New Works on Thursday, November 15th at 7pm. Kitsch’s Last Meal on Friday and Saturday, November 16th and 17th at 7 pm. Both programs at Anthology Film Archives. See the PERFORMA 07 website for more details.
Dr. Maura Reilly is the Founding Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, the first museum exhibition space of its kind in the world. Prior to assuming the position as Curator, Reilly taught art history and women's studies at Tufts University, as well as courses at Pratt Institute, Vassar College, and at her alma mater, The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where she received her Ph.D. in 2000 in Modern and Contemporary Art with a concentration in feminist and queer theory. Reilly has curated, lectured, and published extensively, both nationally and internationally, and has been a regular contributor to Art in America since 1998. In 2005, in celebration of ArtTable's 25th year Anniversary, she received one of their prestigious Future Women Leadership Awards; and in 2006, she received a Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts Award from the Women's Caucus for Art. She is an active member of the National Organization for Women, International Association of Art Critics, ArtTable, and is on the National Committee of The Feminist Art Project. Most recently, Reilly curated, Ghada Amer: Love Has No End,, and co-curated with Linda Nochlin, a major exhibition of international contemporary feminist art, titled Global Feminisms, which inaugurates the Brooklyn Museum's new Center for Feminist Art in March of 2007. Reilly is the author of a monograph on Ghada Amer (New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2007).