A cat is a camera, a choreographer, an architect, and a reincarnated psychoanalyst. Over the past six decades, cats have occupied a range of positions in Schneemann’s life and work. In Infinity Kisses II, a cat is a seducer, greeting the artist with deep kisses. She documented these intimate encounters with her cats Cluny and Vesper in hundreds of photographs, two of which are shown here at an overwhelming scale.
Schneemann’s pictures are visceral, even uncomfortable to look at. They palpably image a feeling: the warmth of fur on flesh and the surprising pleasure of finding oneself enfolded in another creature’s world. Denying a cloying sentimentality, the images offer their vulnerable tenderness without apology.
Yes, you are as ever an amazing little cat.
For all that should have broken your spirit, weakened your will, faded your joys…you persist, persevere, reconstruct a universe of dazzling light, deepest shadow— intense, challenging, thrilling.
Unable to run, climb, walk, lick your fur, sharpen your claws; you the whirling, steadying actor forced to become observer of your realm in nature where you started as architect, hunter, acrobat, dancer, explorer, mime…connection of the wild and tame, the turn of season; mistress of forbidden dangerous places between earth and sky, the visible and invisible, above around and below the earth — all this you can now only observe.
But you insist on taking what remains available to your perceptions which have not dulled, keeping your mind as keen and philosophical as ever— you insist on your capacity to declare what is present as wonderful.
My cutting a piece of fish, chopping an avocado for your meal, is greeted with all the attendant excitement and tension of a renewed miracle. If you are strong enough to rise-up on your front legs, lean against a wall, pee without my support, your pride and pleasure is evident.
Of course we must do our part and that is often difficult, confusing, subtle. To decide from your attitude if you have the strength to be placed in your walker and move freely with it. To decide if you prefer to pass the night alone on a low cushion under the lamp, or on the trunk pulled up to our bed where we share our dreaming. When our decision is correct your eyes shine, your purring approves.
Last night you lay on your side under a light blanket, your head raised, eyes radiant, purring a resonant, sweeping purr. You were watching us read in bed. We were your movie, your book, your adventure— a simple reoccurrence, the familiar situation— secure, harmonious, gathered together. Watching us gave you such joy that we became aware of the pleasure of our moment.
Perhaps this was your meditation in the pyramid Paul built for you. When you moved into it at Christmas and only limped out for meals, to pee or shit near the Christmas tree, to share brief affections, appreciations, we began to loosen the constancy and richness of our attachment and companionship.
I said I only can hope you will peacefully fade….
– Carolee Schneemann
MAY 13 – JUN 21, 2015
Carolee Schneemann, Infinity Kisses II, 1990–1998 (2004 print edition), 40 x 60 inches each.
MAY 20 – 31, 2015
Mounira Al Solh, A Double Burger and Two Metamorphoses: a proposal for a Dutch cat, a Dutch dog, a Dutch donkey, a Dutch goat and finally, a Dutch camel, 2011, Mini-DV video, color, sound, 24 minutes. Courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg / Beirut.
JUN 3 – 21, 2015
Miles Huston, Temple (20 lb), 2015. Mixed media installation.
HUNTER COLLEGE FELLOWS’
MAY 16, 12:00 PM (RSVP)
“This pie offers self-realization,” Schneemann quips in the recipe for her six-step baking performance Americana I Ching Apple Pie (1972). As a domestic venue for her kinetic-theater, the kitchen becomes a potential site for “liberation through joyous aggression,” where questions of self-actualization and autonomy surface.
Cooking returns as a wry and defiant performance in Sondra Perry’s work Sondra Perry & Associate™ Make Pancakes and Shame the Devil, in which the artist and her mother transform the Artist’s Institute into a kitchen stocked with pulleys, head-mounted video screens, and Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix spiked with unexpected ingredients. Within this simultaneously elaborate and makeshift domestic set, the mother and daughter’s performance of labor exposes the entanglement of class, gender, and race. Still, their food will be served to guests, an equivocation about its status as concept or material that becomes a provocation to consumption.
Curated by Ray Ferreira, Miatta Kawinzi, Erik Patton, and Pang Vang.
MOUNIRA AL SOLH
MAY 20 – 31, 2015
Mounira Al Solh, A Double Burger and Two Metamorphoses: a proposal for a Dutch cat, a Dutch dog, a Dutch donkey, a Dutch goat and finally, a Dutch camel, 2011, Mini-DV video, color, sound, 24 minutes, Courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg / Beirut.
A series of conversations between the artist and five animals of her own invention. Performing her animal counterparts, Mounira-as-animal becomes an independently thinking and feeling subject who questions, probes, and ultimately refuses Mounira’s requests. Through the animal-human exchange of authority and agency role-playing and conversation provide the literal and metaphorical forms for collapsing the positions of self and other.
Curated by Scott Dow, Laura McMillan, Tatiana Mouarbes, and Kevin Swenson.