"Prior to Schneemann, the female body in art was mute and functioned almost exclusively as a mirror of masculine desire." Jan Avgikos, Artforum
Carolee Schneemann has never ceased to cross mediums and
boundaries to make work that resonates with raw poetic power. From her
collaged war or diary films and provocative performances to her photos,
paintings and installations, Schneemann’s varied and distinctly
feminist creations deconstruct our ingrained preconceptions and
everyday assumptions. In words, images and actions, her art is deeply
personal, sharply critical, intensely expressive, and always
innovative. This special evening with Schneemann features a collection
of some of the most highly charged political statements, erotic
episodes and domestic disturbances ever seen in American avant-garde
cinema. The program includes Fuses (1965–7, 29 min., 16mm, silent), Viet-Flakes (1965, 11 min., 16mm), Plumb Line (1968–71, 18 min., 16mm), and Devour (2003–4, 7:52 min., video).
In person: Carolee Schneemann
This program is part of a series of screenings of the
work of Carolee Schneemann that takes place in Los Angeles April 20-25,
2008 at the following venues: Los Angeles Filmforum www.lafilmforum.org (April 20) and UCLA Film & Television Archive www.cinema.ucla.edu (April 25).
Film - 16mm, color, silent.
New restoration of original 16mm collaged print–May 2007, 29:51 min.
Part of "Autobiographical Trilogy". Filming begun in 1964. This
self-shot erotic film remains a controversial classic. With awards at
Cannes (1968), the Yale Film Festival (1992), and showings at Museums
and Universities internationally, Fuses has nevertheless encountered
censorship over the years. "[A]notorious masterpiece, a silent
celebration in color of heterosexual love making, the film unifies
erotic energies within a domestic environment through cutting,
super-imposition and layering of abstract impressions scratched into
the celluloid itself... Fuses succeeds perhaps more than any other film
in objectifying the sexual streamings of the body's mind." - The Guardian
Film - 8mm printed to 16mm, b/w, toned. 11 minutes. Sound collage by James Tenney.
Composed from an obsessive collection of Vietnam War atrocity images,
compiled over five years from foreign magazine and newspapers.
Schneemann uses the 8mm camera to "travel" within the photographs
producing a volatile animation. Broken rhythms and visual fractures are
heightened by a sound collage by James Tenney of Vietnamese religious
chants, secular songs, fragments of Bach, 60s pop hits. "One of the
most effective indictments of the Vietnam War ever made." – Robert
Enright, Border Crossings.
1971 Plumb Line
Film - Super 8, step printed to 16mm, color, sound. 18 minutes, sound by C. Schneemann.
Part II of "Autobiographical Trilogy". Filming begun in 1968. The
dissolution of a relationship unravels through visual and aural
equivalences. Schneemann splits and recomposes actions of the lovers in
a streaming montage of disruptive permutations: 8mm is printed as 16mm,
moving images freeze, frames reoccur and dissolve until the film bursts
into flames, consuming its own substance.
Multi-channel color video projection with sound. (7:52 minutes)
is a multi-channel video projection realized with support from a
Rockefeller Foundation Media Arts Grant and an Eyebeam Artist
Residency. Perceptual tensions drive a range of images edited to
contrast evanescent, fragile elements with violent, concussive,
speeding fragments. Looped sources of the imagery combine political
disasters, domestic intimacy and the ambiguous menace within enlarged
details of gestures -- both human and mechanical.
About the filmmaker
The history of Carolee Schneemann’s work is characterized by
research into archaic visual traditions, pleasure wrested from
suppressive taboos, the body of the artist in dynamic relationship with
the social body. Her work questions the exclusivity of traditional
western categories by creating a space of complementarity, mutuality,
and integration and she has transformed the very definition of art,
especially with regard to discourses concerning the body, sexuality,
Born in Fox Chase, Pennsylvania, she received a B.A. from Bard
College and an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois. She began her
art career as a painter in the late 1950s. Her painting work began to
adopt some of the characteristics of Neo-Dada art, as she used box
structures coupled with expressionist brushwork. In 1962, Schneemann
and her then-husband composer James Tenney moved to New York, where
they became involved in the art and music scene and met Claes
Oldenberg, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, George
Brecht, Malcolm Goldstein, Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Steve Reich.
Schneemann started working with the artists of the Judson Church, and
participated in works such as Oldenberg's Store Days (1962) and Robert Morris’s Site (1964) where she played a living version of Edward Manet’s Olympia.
She began to use her nude body in works, feeling that it needed to be
seized back from the status of a cultural possession. Production on her
work Eye Body began in 1962. Schneemann created a "loft
environment" filled with broken mirrors, motorized umbrellas, and
rhythmic color units. To become a piece of the art herself, she covered
herself in various materials including grease, chalk, and plastic. In
1964, the reworking of original film footage of three 1964 performances
of Meat Joy in Paris, London and New York City ushered Schneemann into film and video-making.
The New Museum of Contemporary Art, NYC, featured a
retrospective of Schneemann's works entitled "Up To And Including Her
Limits" in 1998 In 2007, a dual exhibit at CEPA Gallery, Buffalo NY
& MOCCA Toronto featured recent video installations. Electronic
Arts Intermix NYC and Anthology Film Archives NYC collaborated on
presentations of newly restored and current film & videos November
2007. Her work has also been shown at such renowned institutions as the
Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the New York Museum of
Modern Art (MoMA), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Museum of
Contemporary Art, Chicago and the London National Film Theatre.
She has been the recipient of Media Grants from the
Rockefeller Foundation, a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship, as well as grants
from the Gottlieb Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Andrea
Frank Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Schneemann has taught at several universities, including the California
Institute of the Arts, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago,
Hunter College and Rutgers University, where she was the first female
art professor hired.
MIT Press has just published Imaging Her Erotics - Essays, Interviews, Projects. Editions of Schneemann's previous writing includes; More Than Meat Joy: Complete Performance Works and Selected Writings (1979, 1997); Video Burn (1992); Early and Recent Work (1983); ABC - We Print Anything - In The Cards (1977); Cezanne, She Was A Great Painter (1976); and Parts of a Body House Book (1972). Correspondence Course, a selection of her letters edited by Kristine Stiles is forthcoming from Duke University Press.
1966 Red News
1971 Plumb Line
1973-78 Kitch's Last Meal
1992 Vesper's Stampede To My Holy Mouth
1993-95 Interior Scroll - The Cave
1996 Known/Unknown - Plague Column.
1999 Vespers Pool.
2000 More Wrong Things
2007 Carl Ruggles' Christmas Breakfast
2007 Mop-Mop--Improvisation for Job at New York University