Carolee Schneemann
February 13 – August 2, 2015

When Carolee Schneemann entered the neo-avant garde of the 1960s, the materials available to artists had expanded up to an ironic limit: it seemed that a body could use everything but itself. In turning to the body as a material, Schneemann broke this basic conservatism and the taboo of erotic introspection that it had tacitly barred from art’s ongoing project of reflexivity. For Schneemann, the body’s intuitions, secret knowledges, and desires were materials to be experimentally mixed — literally and metaphorically — with every other medium: paint, film, printed matter, and the history of representation itself.

From February 13th to August 2nd, the Artist’s Institute will dedicate its program to Carolee Schneemann’s expanded conception of the body as a material, exploring its extensions and versatility. The six-month season will be divided into five parts, each following a single through-line in Schneemann’s ideas and process, including her use of dreams, intimate relationships, and inter-species communication.

 

Part One, February 13 – March 29, 2015

Because she did not have access to life models in art school, the first nudes Carolee Schneemann painted were the bodies she knew well — friends and lovers. Her hand held the brush but also the knowledge of intimate touch. These early works taught Schneemann that painting was not just for representing flesh but also for experiencing it. Even in the passage of Cézanne’s pastorals Schneemann felt the invitation to set the body into lurid motion. Still, art history books tried to tell her the opposite about her own body, namely that a woman’s beauty belonged on the far side of the picture plane. And so she chose to verse herself in her own sensual intuition, materializing the female nude in actual space. Schneemann, then, became the consummate auto-didact: subject and object of her process.… Read more

Because she did not have access to life models in art school, the first nudes Carolee Schneemann painted were the bodies she knew well — friends and lovers. Her hand held the brush but also the knowledge of intimate touch. These early works taught Schneemann that painting was not just for representing flesh but also for experiencing it. Even in the passage of Cézanne’s pastorals Schneemann felt the invitation to set the body into lurid motion. Still, art history books tried to tell her the opposite about her own body, namely that a woman’s beauty belonged on the far side of the picture plane. And so she chose to verse herself in her own sensual intuition, materializing the female nude in actual space. Schneemann, then, became the consummate auto-didact: subject and object of her process.

Madame Cézanne

Carolee Schneemann’s best-known works include Meat Joy (1964), an orgiastic celebration of flesh featuring raw poultry, fish, wet paint, and human bodies, and Interior Scroll (1975), a twice-performed work that involved a series of life model “action poses” followed by a reading of feminist texts from a scroll slowly pulled from the artist’s vagina. These are now iconic touchstones of the artist’s oeuvre, in part because of the prominence of their photographic documentation in art history textbooks, where the works are typically cross-referenced in appendixes under feminist art or performance. And yet Schneemann has for years insisted that she is a painter, suggesting that some of her earliest intermedia works from the 1960s, including Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions and Glass Environment for Sound and Motion, can be traced back to her lifelong fascination with Paul Cézanne. While it’s now common for artists to claim that they’re painters — namely that they work in a variety of media “as painting” —  Schneemann isn’t interested in destabilizing the term as such, but rather relates to the medium’s kinaesthetic pressures, to the ways in which an artist who paints becomes sensitized to light, motion, and how a body processes perception. This might be why Schneemann howled like a cat when I referred to her “art practice,” rejecting the term’s clinical, prescriptive and professionalizing associations. Doctors and lawyers have practices. She has a process, one that draws on morphologies of form and structure in biology and in musical composition; on the history of art and throwing the I Ching. It is a response to menstrual dreams, and to the way a brushstroke makes her whole body feel its motion. And so I was curious: what process enabled Schneemann, an icon of feminism, to both love Cézanne and to radically rethink the body as a tactile physical and imaged subject?

A clue appeared in the title of one of Schneemann’s early artist books, Cézanne: She Was a Great Painter. Published in 1975 at the apex of second-wave feminism, the book contains a selection of her writings up to that time, including letters to artists, poems, and prose that detail Schneemann’s struggles to work and make a life for herself amidst deep structural inequalities for women. The gender-bending title of Schneemann’s book was inspired by a poignant and hilarious story recounted in its introduction, about how she had, at the age of twelve, misidentified Cézanne as a woman — the “anne” seemingly of the feminine declension. Finding a famous woman artist that she could look up to had proven difficult until then, and so, heartened by the great woman painter Cézanne, Schneemann said to herself, “If Cézanne could do it, I can do it.”

It turned out that Schneemann would need the encouragement, especially after she was given a full scholarship to study art at Bard. Not only was she the first woman in her family to attend college, she had committed to a major that hardly seemed practical. There she eagerly took up painting and drawing alongside classes in French literature and art history. Works from this time demonstrate her interest in the all-over abstract compositions of contemporary Expressionists like Pollock and de Kooning, but she also experimented with painting from life, engaging flattened perspective and affecting colors in ways that signaled the influence of the post-Impressionists.

Painting from life, however, presented its own difficulties. Being an art student, Schneemann wanted to study the nude figure, to train her eye and hand to follow its curves and capture its dimensions. But according to Schneemann, Bard was a literary place where novelists like Saul Bellow held court, and the administration was not interested in investing in life models for the art department. So she improvised, doing what female painters in nineteenth-century art academies might have done when denied access to the nude models enjoyed by their male counterparts: she waited for her lover to sleep so she could paint him. In these works, her eye follows the contours of his reclining figure and painting invariably becomes a kind of touch, her gaze caressing his resplendent torso in shades of emerald, ochre, and alizarin. There are dozens of paintings and drawings like these from the late 1950s of her longtime partner and artistic collaborator James Tenney. Looking at these works now, their youthful passion and unselfconscious eroticism is undeniable, qualities that Schneemann would draw out again a decade later in Fuses (1965), a film that merged structuralist aesthetics with genital pleasure.

When Schneemann finally shared her sensual watercolors and drawings with her professors in a critique, she was told they were narcissistic and unacceptable. (One wonders whether the bigger problem was the works themselves or the sexual relationship to which they alluded.) Schneemann responded in a subsequent crit by presenting a life-size nude self-portrait — if a man couldn’t be painted naked, perhaps a female artist could?  An expulsion letter arrived shortly thereafter, and although the college did not provide an explicit reason for her forced leave of absence, it was clear that women were expected to work within certain limits.

Schneemann continued to paint, and after a conciliatory stint at Columbia — where, to her delight, they had life models — she was invited back to Bard and graduated in 1959. She went on to get an MFA from the University of Illinois, and finally settled on 29th Street in Manhattan in a large loft-space previously occupied by a furrier. Letters and performance notes from the early 1960s indicate that Schneemann was becoming more sensitized to the body, and working towards what she called an “empathetic-kinesthetic vitality.” She had arrived at that idea through painting landscapes and figures, and via the writing of thinkers like Wilhelm Reich, who likened the body to an “investigating living plasma feeling out its environment.” Schneemann was pursuing a synesthetic understanding of seeing-as-touching, not unlike how Euclid and Hipparchus believed the eye emitted a substance that felt what it saw; illumination as a grasping, haptic dance across surfaces.

Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions is one of the first works that Schneemann completed in her New York studio and, in its examination of how the body becomes attuned to images and feels them visually, is the culmination of this early period of questioning. It is also an important artistic document of how a woman artist identified, or did not, with the history of image-making, and with being the object of the gaze while rarely doing the making — or the gazing back, for that matter. The work foreshadowed future performances in which Schneemann’s body was presented as both material and subject. A year after her 1961 performance in Claes Oldenberg’s Store, where she stood on a shelf amidst oversized cakes, lamb-chops, flags, and shoes — an excessive painterly environment if ever there was one — Schneemann was in her studio experimenting with her body in front of a large painting made of four fur cutting boards with moving umbrellas and Christmas lights. The scene was visually overwhelming: there were piles of fur scraps, desks overflowing with painting supplies and collected junk, stored artworks, easels and sawhorses, and Schneemann contributed to it by covering herself with paint and garden snakes. For a painter whose eye was acutely attuned to the tactility and motion of the dimensional picture plane, this was a sensual pleasure palace.

Schneemann invited at least two artists to photograph her entanglement with this environment. In December 1963, she encouraged her friend Erró, a painter, to photograph her physical transformations for the camera, and thirty-six of his shots became the work now known as Eye Body. Before this, however, the first person to photograph Schneemann amidst the furs, lightbulbs, paint and broken mirrors was A.V. Sobolewski, a photographer whose 1962 images were only discovered a couple of years ago tucked away in a flat file in Schneemann’s studio. These images lack the aggressive frontal quality of Erró’s pictures, but they recall the ambiguity of looking at a painting, when the eye vacillates between the intricacies of a work’s abstract brushwork and its overall composition. In one picture, Schneemann’s kneeling twisted torso nearly blends in with the large gestural marks surrounding her, her body both literally and metaphorically merging with the painterly environment. This is in no small part a return to Cézanne, a painter she admired for the way his broken planes of color sent the eye roaming around the canvas, creating a sense of destabilizing motion. Here, the metonymic excursions of the eye are reconnected with the sensuous body. The work also performs the difficulty of Schneemann’s bifurcated process, and gestures at the problem it poses to historicization: pictures scanned too quickly are read as “feminist,” overlooking the phenomenological nature of the work. In reality, however, something far more complicated is taking place.

This material symbiosis of the painted environment and the self operative in Eye Body and in many of Schneemann’s intermedia performances approaches what Maurice Merleau-Ponty calls “flesh” (chair) in his late essay “Eye and Mind.” In it he posits that the intimate reciprocity of subject and object — or in Schneemann’s case, maker and material —precedes the identification of particular beings. This reciprocity intensifies the body’s connection to a carnal “anonymous visibility,” as Merleau-Ponty puts it, something felt when the body switches between looking and being looked at, touching and being touched. In fact, Merleau-Ponty thought painters were particularly attuned to this animistic merging with their surroundings, speculating that because Cézanne gazed so intently at the trees, he not only saw them but began to envision the world from their perspective. Schneemann’s writing about her work reflects a similar affective intertwining with her environment: “I say ‘I use materials’ but I often sense that they use me as vision from which they re-emerge in a visual world which could not speak without them.” Her work uses and concretizes this field of vision as “horizontals, verticals, pressure, tortion, pulse and color move to sustain an image as a habitation.”

It is perhaps no surprise, then, that when Schneemann entered the Artist’s Institute for the first time, she was immediately taken with its idiosyncratic architecture––low-slung heating pipes jutting out across the ceiling, the underside of a dusty staircase hidden behind a bookshelf, the sensation of compression that comes with stepping down into a Lower East Side version of an English basement. We took a hammer to the fireplace, whose brick interior had been temporarily drywalled over, creating what we considered to be the perfect nook for a cat. This process of feeling-looking gave way to a vision: since the Institute’s landscape of uneven surfaces and odd architectural features produced the very kind of stretch and motility Schneemann sought in art, why not intensify its impressions on the body, and juxtapose colors that would “grind in on the senses” (as Schneemann once described her love of motion)? Colors were selected for their vibrancy, and as the artist remarked, the Benjamin Moore names were so delicious you almost wanted to eat them: Mandarin Orange, Passion Plum, Pineapple Grove, and Lemon. The floors would be a deep purple — Her Majesty — a fitting foundation for Schneemann’s creation.

Walking into this painterly environment brings one physically closer to Schneemann’s territory: it denies the Cartesian dualism of mind and body, and the related binary of concept versus materialist process that was especially pronounced at the beginning of Schneemann’s career and continues to attend discussions of art. As with so much of Schneemann’s work, the prescribed formal conceit, the institutional limit — here, the white box — is broken open, its conventions dismantled so that it can be felt from the inside, so that it moves. This, of course, is not a fixed strategy or practice, but rather part of Schneemann’s continuing exploration, her desire to feel as she sees.

 Jenny Jaskey

List of Works

Carolee Schneemann, Color Palette Environment, 2015. Site-specific installation

Carolee Schneemann, Reclining Nude, 1956. Acrylic and crayon on rag paper. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York

Carolee Schneemann, Figure, 1958. Ink on rag paper. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York

Carolee Schneemann, Summer Landscape, 1958. Ink on paper. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York

Carolee Schneemann, Untitled, 1962. Gelatin silver print. Photo by A.V. Sobolewski. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York

 

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Part Two, April 3 – May 10, 2015

The first of the 156 notecards that make up Schneemann’s ABC—We Print Anything—In The Cards (1976–77), cinches art and life in a circuit:

Gerry said: The point is to get the basic spirit of the life out into the work. The point of the work is to renew the basic spirit of the life.

Born out of the emotional chaos of two tangled relationships, the artwork’s attention to how we communicate, disrupt, and adapt to one another now renews the spirit of what happens around it: a music concert written as correspondence by composer James Tenney, a lecture on the difficulty of interpreting Schneemann’s art by Branden W. Joseph, an intercollegiate symposium, a night of stand-up comedy, and a print from a fictional feminist secession by Mai-Thu Perret.… Read more

The first of the 156 notecards that make up Schneemann’s ABC—We Print Anything—In The Cards (1976–77), cinches art and life in a circuit:

Gerry said: The point is to get the basic spirit of the life out into the work. The point of the work is to renew the basic spirit of the life.

Born out of the emotional chaos of two tangled relationships, the artwork’s attention to how we communicate, disrupt, and adapt to one another now renews the spirit of what happens around it: a music concert written as correspondence by composer James Tenney, a lecture on the difficulty of interpreting Schneemann’s art by Branden W. Joseph, an intercollegiate symposium, a night of stand-up comedy, and a print from a fictional feminist secession by Mai-Thu Perret.

Dealing

Late in 1976, at the end of Carolee Schneemann’s partnership to Anthony McCall, McCall gathered all his belongings in Schneemann’s house and convinced her new lover Bruce McPherson to share a U-Haul with him. Anthony would use the truck to move out, and Bruce would use it to move in. On moving day, Schneemann took many photos of the two men shuffling each other’s things from house to truck and truck to house, images that she would later turn into a silk-screen print, The Men Cooperate (1979). It placed the two stories in a tidy line, an end and a beginning, meeting but not touching via the tailgate of a moving van.

But the notion of sharing a single truck hinted at another less linear shape to what had transpired over the previous year. The two relationships had not formed an orderly line but a weird involute loop. There had been a circuit of shifting relations amongst the three, a compression of choices made and then unmade, advice and excuses traded amongst friends over the phone, all bent back upon one another.

Over the course of 1976, Schneemann had begun to document the complexity of the commingling relationships, writing down snippets of conversations involving the protagonists as well as advice from friends. In part to try and make sense of the experience, Schneemann organized the growing pile of paper inside her desk into a work of art. As she formalized the work, she began to take photos and add excerpts from her journal, including reminiscences and dreams, eventually transferring all the material onto 156 color-coded notecards, each with a corresponding photo card: pink for advice from friends, blue for pieces of conversations, yellow for notes from her journal. Though numbered, the cards were intended to be shuffled and recomposed, offering a dynamic experience of mutable connections that evoked both the literary and the filmic. In 1977 the cards were printed as the editioned artist’s book ABC—We Print Anything—In The Cards, which also became the title of three performances Schneemann gave of the material, twice in Holland and once in New York, where she read from the shuffled cards while projecting the accompanying images.

The title, ABC–We Print Anything–In the Cards, was adapted from a t-shirt that Schneemann came across in a printer’s shop-window bearing the slogan “ABC–We Print Anything.” It became the recursive project’s banner too: “A” now stood for Anthony, “B” for Bruce, and “C” for Carolee, and the provocation of “printing anything” now referred to documenting the intimate details of their relations. It was “in the cards” in the sense that the drama and banalities of lived experience were bared in the note cards, but that part of the title also captured something of the Tarot that ran in the opposite direction: dreams, desires, and advice—in short, all the potentialities of the real relationships—were suspended in the cards, which had yet to be dealt.

Schneemann’s decision to edit and organize the events and potentialities of her real life into a work of art bound the development of each to the other. The effort to make a work of art that was true to the looping, shifting relationships of 1976 became, for Schneemann, an experiment in how to adapt to and live with their interconnected changes and contradictions.

In one card, Schneemann quoted Gerry, a friend who diagrammed it like this:

The point is to get the basic spirit of the life out into the work. The point of the work is to renew the basic spirit of the life. (1)

In its focus on communication, feedback, and adaptation, ABC counter-intuitively shares its lineage with Schneemann’s earlier technological investigations into systems of feedback and adaptive change, works that art historian Kenneth White has placed within the larger framework of cybernetic art of the 60s and 70s. Among the first of these works was Snows(1967), a multimedia performance born of Schneemann’s outrage against the Vietnam War and facilitated by the burgeoning Experiments in Art and Technology group. Among other elements, Snows included light-machines controlled by microphones that had been surreptitiously placed beneath audience members’ seats. In the early 70s, Schneemann also built several “meat systems” that incorporated electronic switching and relay systems to mediate audience participation. In 1970, she developed Electronic Activation Room for Harald Szeemann’s exhibition Happening and Fluxus in Cologne. The activation room was a system for refracting projections of earlier work via a complex array of mirrors controlled by servo-motors that adjusted themselves through positional feedback using a computer system designed by John Lifton.

Though ABC lacks some of the most obvious technical mechanisms for adaptive response, the form and content of the cards nevertheless allow Schneemann subtle ways to render her relationships as dynamic feedback loops through which art, life, and ideas circulate, transformed by and transforming their senders and receivers.

As the quote from Gerry suggests, ABC is rooted in a kind of autopoesis that establishes a feedback loop between Schneemann’s art and life where the content of the relationships supply the terms of its own formalization into art. In one such card, Bruce, himself a writer and publisher with whom Schneemann would later collaborate on a book-length survey of her art, advocated for what would ultimately become the final form: put it all on cards. Then you can shuffle. (42)

The work’s self-referential and self-generative structure was recursively modeled on the real relationship amongst A., B., and C.; a tangle that was continually addressing and reshaping itself. The reflexivity of the relationship, its tendency to both reference itself and interconnect its participants, is a leitmotif throughout the cards, often appearing explicitly in conversations about sharing and jealousy:

They realized they were part of an historical process and had to learn to share all they previously expected to have for themselves. (105)

A. to C. : Everyone is borrowing everyone else’s equipment; there is only one system and everyone has a bit of it. (100)

Lucas said: You have to take care of that wonderful body for the rest of us. She may be in love with you, but she belongs to the people. (90)

B. told C., there are many kinds of affections & relations. A. asked C. about B. C. told A. about B., and told B. about A. C. asked A. about D.  A. told D. about C. B. told C. Now he felt monogamous, more or less C. told B. she was monogamous to him, except for A. (6)

C. told A. jealousy was the most unbearable emotion. C. told B. she would do anything to avoid feeling jealousy. B. told C. jealousy was the swiftest, most distorting emotion. A. told C. jealousy made him unrecognizable to himself. (55)

Here, even jealousy is represented as shared. It circulates amongst the three in the X of a chiasmic circuit, with Anthony and Carolee switching positions on the outside, and Bruce and Carolee on the inside: C-A / C-B / B-C/ A-C.

Put another way, how A., B., and C. related to each other and to the things they shared and withheld reflected, to paraphrase Card 1, the spirit of life they brought to the work. The variability and dynamism of their looping interpersonal system was embodied in the variable and interconnected set of cards. In this sense, to say it’s all in the cards might even be something of an understatement: shuffling them, there are 7.471063 x 10 275 different ways to arrange all 156 cards.

As in the case of Card 55, a number of the cards track how something like a thought or word wends its way through a given interpersonal subsystem, becoming transformed in the process. Bruce and Carolee in particular experimented with the kinds of knowledge that could develop from this combinatorial, dialogic process of feedback:

“Love is only interesting when its real,” C. “Interest is only real when love is,” B. (149)

B. said: depth of reality, not “newness” is the value. C. said: the depth of the value made reality new. (16)

“All we can best hope to do is give one another the courage to change our existing expectations,” C. “It’s enough to give one another the courage to exist with changing expectations,” B. (71)

By simply re-arranging the words “change” and “existing” from verb-adjective to adjective-verb, Bruce transforms Carolee’s statement into its own riposte.

As a corollary to this kind of generative repetition, various images recur multiple times in the card set, each connected to different text cards, thus transforming their associations. There’s an open frame, a figurine of an ancient female goddess, Carolee and Bruce together in bed, Bruce naked in bed, Carolee naked in bed, Carolee hugging a female friend, a wasp on a windowsill, a reproduction of three skulls in a catacomb, a reproduction of religious icons.

Many of the collected dialogues between Bruce and Carolee form feedback loops wherein a comment from one is taken up by the other, re-ordered and returned to the original speaker as a response. Even though the re-ordering is a simple syntactical transformation, it nonetheless expresses a legitimate difference of opinions. In Card 71, Carolee suggests that one should compel others to have the courage to change their existing expectations; Bruce, again by switching the grammatical roles of the central terms (change, exist), posits something close to the opposite, that it is enough to give people the courage to continue to exist in the face of others’ changes. As is typical of ABC, the form and the content here create another recursive meta-feedback loop: the topic of conversation is how change should be dealt with, while the language game at work generates change and contradiction. An unattributed quote on Card 73 puts it like this: “contradictions should be appreciated for letting change emerge.”

Though change brought about the interpersonal chaos of 1976, it was also clear that a new, emotionally functional arrangement could only be brought about through more change. The material Schneemann gathered in the cards refuses to give a coherent narrative of what has or will happen, instead, like the cards themselves, eddying around change as both a source of disorder and a means of understanding. With a few exceptions, almost all of the cards thematize change as a function of communication; of messages, advice, dreams, and confessions relayed amongst various parties and to the reader. The few actions documented in ABC plot intimate extremes—fucking, leaving, a bout of acute nausea—while the rest focus on the exchange and effects of information.

In desperation they wrote a special delivery letter to the Goddess. They put in a long distance call on Sunday night. The letter was returned “not at this address”. The phone was always engaged. (123)

As Gerry implies in his diagram detailing the reciprocity of art and life, the cards are not simply documents of messages sent and received, they are also vessels. This is especially true of the pink cards, the ones dedicated to advice from friends.

Caroline said: Try champagne, candles and super dope. (29)

Suzanne said: Be a little flippant; but steady on the self-esteem. (22)

Bill said: Keep ahold of your anger and get strength from it. (58)

These cards offer an array of things to try, not exactly actions but instructions for hypothetical action. The specific situation or person a piece of advice is meant to address is often unclear, and so within the system of shuffled cards, advice appears as an abstract signal always followed by another card, another possible outcome, in the manner of the redundant images mentioned earlier. Sometimes super dope (29) leads to sex (65), sometimes to a febrile dream wherein Anthony runs his car into two middle-aged women (61). In the language of the cybernetician Heinz von Foerster, the relationship system is represented as “non-trivial,” one that given consistent input will produce inconsistent outputs. Unlike the physical sciences, which seek to establish reproducibility through exhaustive explanation, cybernetics acknowledges that the world is filled with things and systems that are too complex to be understood through the minutiae of their parts, but which we continue to live with, construct, and use without relying on theories for how or why they work. Instead of explanations, cybernetics focuses instead on a sensitivity to changes in our environment and flexibility in adapting to them. The classic example of this is a thermostat, a technology that performs a complex function yet relies on a relatively simple mechanism—a strip of metal that responds to heat—to recognize temperature changes and adjust accordingly.

Victor said: The world has never made any sense up to now. Why should it suddenly start making sense for you? (108)

The cards omit many details about the relationships that we would expect in a conventional narrative. There is very little information provided about how or why a conversation begins or ends, or what its context or ramifications are. After going through all the cards we have the feeling that we know about the relationships through the dreams, advice, and reflections that preceded and followed their central drama. Yet the paucity of narrative action in the cards means that the core of what transpired amongst A., B., and C. remains relatively dark. Rather than trying to represent the relationships, Schneemann organizes them through questions of communication, change, and adaptation, acknowledging their complexity and suspending them in it, á la cybernetics. There is no final clarity, no neat line to draw from start to finish, only a commitment to ongoing transformation.

The end of the road is just another turning. (53)

No matter how we shuffle the cards we always return, in one way or another, to the question Carolee raises with Bruce, which is also the basic question of cybernetics—what exactly does it take to continue to exist in the face of complexity? The answer is not in either response but in the process of exchange, not in any single card but in the cards, as a shifting whole.

A.E. Benenson

List of Works

Carolee Schneemann, ABC—We Print Anything—In The Cards, 1976, 314 color-coded notecards transferred to 35mm slides, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W.

Carolee Schneemann, Color Palette Environment, 2015. Site-specific installation.

James Tenney, Postal Pieces, 1965-71, ten postcards, dimensions variable, reprinted by Smith Publications.

Mai-Thu Perret, Society is a Hole, 2009, silkscreen, 84.1 x 59.4 cm. Courtesy the artist and David Kordansky Gallery.

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Part Three, May 13 – June 21, 2015

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.… Read more

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.

Journal, 1976

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

List of Works

Carolee Schneemann, Infinity Kisses II, 1990–1998 (2004 print edition), 40 x 60 inches each. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Samuel Lallouz

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

Miles Huston, Temple (20 lb), 2015. Mixed media installation. Courtesy the artist and Room East

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Part Four, June 26 – August 2, 2015

“Even our dreams and uncon­scious recognitions were subjected to pervading male interpretations.” In Carolee Schneemann’s performance Fresh Blood, the art­ist reflected on the iconography of a menstrual dream involving an umbrella and a dried bouquet, reclaiming this symbolic realm as her own. She connected her dream-objects’ morphology to the vulva, something she found evocative of an interior zone of insight and associated with other forms like crystals and sacred objects. This visual lexicon reappears in the radiating panels of Venus Vectors (1986–88), where video documentation of Fresh Blood intermingles with drawings and prints, transmuting her performance into both sculptural form and self-determined archive.

Nearby, Zoe Leonard’s photograph of a spliced ana­tomical model of a woman’s head further meditates on the gendered conventions of bodily representation.… Read more

“Even our dreams and uncon­scious recognitions were subjected to pervading male interpretations.” In Carolee Schneemann’s performance Fresh Blood, the art­ist reflected on the iconography of a menstrual dream involving an umbrella and a dried bouquet, reclaiming this symbolic realm as her own. She connected her dream-objects’ morphology to the vulva, something she found evocative of an interior zone of insight and associated with other forms like crystals and sacred objects. This visual lexicon reappears in the radiating panels of Venus Vectors (1986–88), where video documentation of Fresh Blood intermingles with drawings and prints, transmuting her performance into both sculptural form and self-determined archive.

Nearby, Zoe Leonard’s photograph of a spliced ana­tomical model of a woman’s head further meditates on the gendered conventions of bodily representation.

Fresh Blood: A Dream Morphology

To what extent do shared cultural recognitions influence the language of our dreams, their significations, interpretations? WE ALL KNOW WHAT AN UMBRELLA IS… BUT WHY DO I DREAM OF IT? The transmogrifications of the umbrella in the dream I call FreshBlood can only be registered in reference to my particular graphic and feminist concerns. The permutations of the “umbrella” emerge from female sexual experience and a painterly/tactile signification of body, object, and material. The mythic attributes draw on feminist research in archeology; the organic structural energies relate to morphology of form.

To delineate the inter-relations structuring both my dreams and films, it is necessary to allow the “things” to be central, in focus; to keep focus on the preverbal quality of the objects: their entrances, durations, shifts from dark to light, obscure to specific. (And words also maintain a hypnogogic object form.) To explain further the concentration on the form of the dream-object, I have to refer to the fact that my work is based on my background as a painter. The years of “painting from nature” proceeded and informed the later developments of media, environment, and performance. Early on I felt the mind was subject to the dynamics of its body. The body activating the pulse of eye and stroke, the mark signifying the event transferred from “actual” space to constructed space. I felt it was essential to dance, to exercise for an hour before going to paint in order to see better: to bring the mind’s eye alert and clear as the muscular relay of eye/hand would be.

The symbolic range of dream material (images and texts) does not determine how the dream content enters into my film and performance works. Symbol implication, equivalence, and reference remain attached to its specific dream-source: to the visual object, thing, or word to which the symbol-form is moored. The object quality, thingness is what guides the occurrence and density of dream material active (and activating) the films and performance works. This objectness can free the symbolic “content” to unravel itself, reattract (magnetize) associative elements which may be repressed, denied or which would otherwise be determined conventionally. I resist the fixity of literary and psychological association projected into personal mythologies. I resist those reflexive constraints against the flexible leaps and bounds (the suspension of self-definition) necessary to pursue how to think about these ways in which thought occurs, how to see what is shown us. (Circumnavigating traditional “resistance” to what underlies our permission to face the unknown, the taboos within our imagining and our cultural moment.)

Feminists are aware of dismantling those analytic, authoritarian hierarchies which male conventions projected onto the scope and implication of the female creative imagination—even our dreams and unconscious recognitions were subjected to pervading male interpretations. The woman’s realm of symbolic event has been confirmed by the male creative will when integrated into his own work (the muse for instance); our unique biological experiences have been permitted definition as masculine invention, description of a female psyche and persona. Our creative works (our dreams) were habitually denigrated, ignored if not correspondent to what the male imagination requires as complement, antagonist or consort. In effect, the male dream of the feminine has been so culturally pervasive that we must still ask: are we dreaming ourselves, or dreaming the dreams of the men dreaming us?

Perhaps for all of these considerations, I refer to the “dream body”—which incorporates “mind;” an implicit emphasis denied to the primacy of body in Freud’s use of “dream mind.” Our unconscious cultural distortions resist integrating the active, physiological networks of the “dream body” as triggering, informing partner, collaborator of “dream mind.” There can be no separation. (And if the archetypes of male/mind/culture-woman/body/nature are still active in the communal unconscious, we will collectively dream the negative male destruction fantasies, just as reactionary “politics of the unconscious” will surface in creative and analytic work.)

Fresh Blood and the following analysis document a spontaneous process in which several associative layers emerge from the dream-object. The layers as they become graphic could be thought of as physical/topological/morphological as well as “psychological!”

The visual morphology was culled from my own books—in a sense rediscovering material embedded both in conscious and unconscious memory. Selected vector sources were organized into units which were then shot into slides and a Super 8 film loop. With the projected images covering a wall I began movements for the body in combination with the changing vectors. The text was then recorded in overlapping sequences of speaking and reading. Gradually the performance work Fresh Blood evolved: this form absorbed an initial concept of the work as a film, and in turn the performance itself will be filmed.

The Dream

Section I

Two English men, Bruce and I sitting in a circle, back of a large taxi (London style or NY Checker). We are being driven to a concert. They are famous writers or “producers.” We are relating anecdotes about unexpected violence at “rock” concerts or unexpected little daily accidents…in any event, the handsome older man in suit and raincoat, says “I’m bleeding you know.” Bruce & I think it’s a metaphor or a joke, until later during this ride, B. looks over and comments, “Why yes, there’s a spot of blood on your trousers.” We wonder how this cut came about, confined as we are. I have a sudden fear it might be from my umbrella; perhaps I inadvertently jabbed his leg getting into the taxi. He smoothly opens the trousers along the crease over his thigh: we can see vivid, fresh “flower” of blood spurting there. I exclaim, “This could be serious, we must tell the driver to take us to a doctor.” I immediately sense that the driver of the taxi is a doctor.

Section II

My shoes were too delicate. I couldn’t remember which direction led to the center of town. When I went to the department store—a very dusty, failing sort of one—I realized the bouquet of “dolls & leaves” you had brought me seemed extremely heavy. I left you in the cafeteria/restaurant on the mezzanine. The basement waiting room of the famous European Veterinarian was crowded. I considered your gift of the bouquet of “dolls and colored fall leaves” might be appropriately left there.

 

Immediate Dream Surround

I crawled out from your arms and the cats in bed, to take a pee. The dream recall was triggered by astonishment to see my thighs covered with blood. (Each month I forget to expect the period—unless late—and experience the “surprise.” Other women have mentioned the same sort of repeated “forgetfulness.”)

Last night we made love on the couch. I got into a curious acrobatic position tipped up, almost balanced on my head upside down; your penetration so intensely deep, full, felt “you came out the other end of me,” or “made a hole in the top.” (Exquisite.) Later we went down the hill for a drink at our local country bar. In the back room we heard an incredible rock and roll band, the live men were dressed in bizarre sequined outfits. We stayed to dance.

As for the English men; I had been reading Waugh off & on. Another mutation of you and A.McC?—your shared British ancestors? My recurrent dream interweaves to relay the past into present; spaces in me/with me you both have or do occupy, …or the years lived in England now “dreamlike,” where I studied dream analysis…

(The degree of sexual denial, blood taboos there…made the first blood pages and blood performance works, London ’71, ’72.)

The Dream Morphology

…something about the bouquet of “dolls & leaves” continues the umbrella symbol…what is it?

I have the umbrella: Instrument, covers, protects, shields, pierces. (In England the “furled umbrella”—sartorial convention/in case of rain/can be used as a weapon, for defense, and quixotically: props open doors, dislodges cats from trees. Jokes of switching, stealing umbrellas. Can indicate endearment, cherishing as in: be sure to take your umbrella.) (My use of umbrellas on motors in early constructions/environments I built; turned at different rhythms, speeds. Living four years In England and don’t remember my umbrella there. Remember Anthony’s black one with instant spring-opening.}

I’m responsible for a man bleeding. He bleeds from a flesh surface adjacent to genitals-as if there is no way to project a vagina “into” a man. He has to be “wounded” to bleed-no other way. (A. had periodic nose bleeds.) This reverses the male projection of female as “wounded” inside. My menstruation brought on by fucking (cock/umbrella opens up inside to start flow, blood/rain). The male can only release, cleanse from within to without, burst, “flow” by ejaculation. Fluid transmission. But in reactive male mythologies the men wound each other to “spill blood,” blood revenge, blood lust, bad blood between them, blood brothers. This grandiose blood in contradistinction to proportionate, periodicity of menstrual blood. The usual male taboos around menses…(often exaggerated, disproportionate fear, revulsion)

The weapon. The wound. Physical complexity of female genital: cunt strength, vulnerability, transformations. (Blood nourishment, birth canal…passage, journey out from within. Creates two genders: one in her own mold, the “other” is male.) Clitoral and vaginal orgasms further shift cunt as homologous with cock-multiple range of functions, sensations increase male/female differentiation. Which should not be antagonistic. How to avoid internalizing male archetypes. The negative male aggression on “what lies within:” attacks, rape, mutilations enacted on woman, and is trope for the “unconscious,” the dream—to tear into the invisible, rip apart, to turn his body into brutalizing instrument; to use physical power as instrumentality, subsuming procreative instrumentality of the female by assault on his source. Distortion of desire, pleasure, mutuality, drained into over-determination of cock-weapon. All women live along the fine thread delineating “good men and bad men,” allthe time. For men (though they often obfuscate the facts) there is no correspondingly constant, daily condition of living as potential sexual victim; an object provoking rage, attack by the “other” gender.

In the dream the blood “flower petals” his thighs: depicts as dream image the sensation of blood actually spurting within me, flowing out as I slept. The coursing, expanding blood flows from source In an “umbrella” shape, spread from an apex. The vagina itself is represented by a V (apex below). Add the vertical cock in cunt from above or below. Add a little curve-as if for balls.

UMBRELLA. (now I see the handle; getting a “handle” on the dream: but also the inverted handle introduces a question mark!)

The quickening of bleeding after loving. Particular pleasure of fucking during the period: hotter, softer inside. The come and the moistening and the blood mix like paints. Red dominates the colorless fluids. Signifies greater power of the body, of the moment: RED BLOOD. The thighs, bellies look painted with the shared fluids. Penis is bloody-like a paint brush out of paint pot. (Your softened cock is not “diminished”—the orgasm power radiates within me. Pours out. If the erection persisted, inability to “come,” be in, merge, a machine. Whose desire for that?)

  1. the penis caused a bleeding wound

  2. the penis is wounded, bleeding

  3. the blood consecrates, integrates, demonstrates fusion: bright red, sticky, metallic aroma

  4. special effects of conjoined periodicity—ritualistic sexually

umbrella cunt umbrella both cunt and cock unfurling
it expands and contracts covers the body the head
is a hollow shaft a tissue thin fabric rigid supports
umbrella is ridged ribbed tactile ridges of cunt cock
is wet covered with rain rain pours down

cunt full of dolls dolls equal babies
leaves—kittens born wrapped up in leaves (summer Milano dream)
leaves—who leaves sheds goes away drops down mulch
penis “leaves”—goes out of vagina
cock leaves bouquets of little babies/dolls inside cunt the ridges are full
inside has shape of umbrella or the bouquet of leaves
umbrella/cunt/cock: rises up opens out
all wrapped up furled unfurled cunt clasping cock

THE POWER OF THE BLOOD MADE OVERT HAS THE RISK OF SOCIAL CENSURE EMBARRASSMENT PUTTING OUT SECRET ESSENCE INTERIOR FLOOD FLOWS IF BLOOD WERE A MENTAL PRODUCT WOULD IT BE ACCEPTABLE?

(if males bled it would be sacred life essence rather than taboo)

Carolee Schneemann (text originally published in Dreamworks, Vol 2, No. 1, Fall 1981.)

List of Works

Carolee Schneemann, Venus Vectors, 1986-88/2014, acrylic panels and digital tablets, 69 x 72 x 72 inches. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W.

Zoe Leonard, Anatomical model of a woman’s head crying, 1993, gelatin silver print, 11.89 x 16.85 inches. Courtesy the artist

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Events

July 14, 7pm,

Michael Taussig, “Schneemann and Shaman.”
Anthropologist Michael Taussig’s talk “Schneemann and Shaman,” examines how each of these terms might illuminate the other with particular reference to the human body, to animals, and the wild. Michael Taussig is professor of Anthropology at Columbia University and author of Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing, as well as Beauty and the Beast.

May 29, 7pm,

Steve Wise on Nonhuman Rights.
According to the Nonhuman Rights Project, “animal rights” is a contradiction in terms. Humans are the only animals that have rights. All the rest are treated like property; they have limited legal protections, but that doesn’t mean they have rights: you can’t kill a chimpanzee like you can’t steal a car. Attorney Steve Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, is fighting to have some nonhuman animals legally recognized as “persons,” capable of possessing some of our most basic rights of bodily liberty and integrity. Wise and his colleagues draw on the history of humans who have used the law to test the limits of their freedom – feudal serfs, slaves, and others – to ask questions about animal autonomy that inevitably open onto broader philosophical questions about the equality of bodies under the law.

Join Wise for a presentation at the Artist’s Institute concerning his activism and thoughts on the recent New York County Supreme Court hearing involving Hercules and Leo, two chimps being held captive by Stony Brook University.

Artist Van Hanos’ documentation of the hearing will be on view at the talk, alongside Carolee Schneemann’s Infinity Kisses II.

May 22, 10.30am,

Nonhuman Rights Project Court Hearing, NY County Supreme Court Civl Branch.
On April 20th, the New York County Supreme Court seemed to acknowledge a claim by the Nonhuman Rights Project that two chimpanzees held in captivity at Stony Brook University, Hercules and Leo, could be considered persons under the law by granting them a hearing for a writ of habeas corpus (“you should have the body”)—a legal action that seeks relief for a person who’s unlawfully imprisoned. A day later, the presiding judge hastily scratched out the phrase in an amendment while leaving a more cryptic concession to personhood: an order that the university “show cause” for holding the chimps. Can animals be considered persons? Who owns their bodies? Come Wednesday morning it seems like the court will have as many questions to answer as to ask.

The hearing will take place at New York County Supreme Court Civil Branch, 60 Centre St., Room 300, NYC. The Institute has commissioned Van Hanos to document the hearing, and his drawings will be displayed later in the week.

May 16, 12pm–2pm,

Sondra Perry & Associate™ Make Pancakes and Shame the Devil.
“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.

This event is curated by Artist’s Institute Fellows Ray Ferreira, Miatta Kawinzi, Erik Patton, and Pang Vang.

May 4, 7.30pm,

Carolee Schneemann Film Screening at Light Industry.
Throughout her career, Carolee Schneemann has produced moving images on film and video intended as cinema, installation, and used as elements in her Kinetic Theater productions. Fuses, Viet-Flakes, and Plumb Line are united by her varied manipulations of the filmstrip, focus on intersubjective—and interspecies—relationships, and the intersection of emerging feminist politics with protest against the Vietnam War. Across all three, Schneemann explores the incorporation of visions other than her own into the space of film. Join us for an evening of films at Light Industry with a conversation between Carolee Schneemann and Giampaolo Bianconi.

April 30, 8pm,

Stand-up Comedy with Jo Firestone, Maeve Higgins, Phoebe Robinson, and Michelle Wolf.
We laugh the hardest at the most uncomfortable truths. Even though Schneemann’s work is filled with playfulness—language games, caricature, absurdity—she has always been funny in a deeper, more destabilizing way, too. Her fearless confrontation of the social conventions surrounding sexuality and the polite limits of autobiography aligned her creatively with the groundbreaking comedians of her generation that were also censored for being “obscene.” Like the very best comedians, Schneemann’s use of humor is fundamentally revelatory: it shows us the things that we prefer to keep hidden, even from ourselves.

In celebration of Schneemann’s sense of humor, independent curator Miriam Katz invites four female comedians—Jo Firestone, Maeve Higgins, Phoebe Robinson, and Michelle Wolf—for a night of stand-up comedy focusing on frank portrayals of interpersonal relationships, identity, and the body.

April 25, 4pm–7.30pm,

Intercollegiate Symposium on Carolee Schneemann.
Undergraduate and graduate art and art history students are invited to reserve seats for three guest presentations on the work of Carolee Schneemann. The symposium provides an opportunity for students to advance their knowledge on Schneemann and her context through an extended dialog with experts as well as peers. Co-sponsored and organized by professors at Hunter College, The New School, and Sarah Lawrence. The program includes Maura Reilly on Carolee Schneemann’s paintings, Soyoung Yoon on Schneemann and representations of female labor, and “Carolee Schneemann’s Ghost Archives,” a performative lecture in homage to Schneemann by Melissa Ragona.

April 16, 7pm,

Branden W. Joseph on Carolee Schneemann.
Considering such works as the kinetic theater performance Meat Joy, early photographs and assemblage constructions to The Lebanon Series of 1983, art historian and critic Branden W. Joseph will examine the particularly unstable and even disruptive texture of Carolee Schneemann’s imagery, the troubles it has caused reviewers, and certain aesthetic and ethical implications it may hold. His lecture is entitled “Unclear Tendencies: Carolee Schneemann’s Image Troubles.”

April 11, 4pm,

A James Tenney concert at Abrons Art Center.
A concert of rarely performed works by composer James Tenney (1934-2006), Schneemann’s romantic and creative partner during the first decade of her career. At the center of the program are selections from Tenney’s Postal Pieces (1965-1971), a series of eleven compositions originally written on postcards to contemporaries including Philip Corner, Alison Knowles, and La Monte Young, among others. Tenney referred to the set as “koans” and like the Buddhist paradoxes these pieces are both rigorously constructed and radically open to interpretation: “Having Never Written a Note for Percussion,” for example, indicates that any piece of percussion play a precise, symmetrical swell for a duration of “very long.” In Tenney’s words, these are sounds “for the sake of perceptual insight” that use their predictable, deductive forms towards a counter-intuitive indeterminacy: pure change without the safety-net of dramatic conventions. Also included in the program is the early “Improvisation for Cello” (1956), as well as several late instrumental ensemble works and electroacoustic tape pieces. Eric Smigel, associate professor of music at San Diego State University, will introduce the concert with a presentation on the late composer’s life and work with Schneemann.

Organized by Alex Waterman with special thanks to Larry Polansky. Performers: Shelley Burgon, Richard Carrick, Conrad Harris, Miguel Frasconi, Chris McIntyre, Reuben Radding, and David Shively.

The concert will be held at Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand Street.

March 20, 7pm,

Carolee Schneemann Performative Lecture.
There’s a certain recursive logic underlying the fact that Carolee Schneemann remains her own best historian. Her artwork is always in part a study of the body that produces it. Still, the various meanings of Schneemann’s works often only reveal themselves to her years or even decades after the fact.  In this way, her embodied practice — guided by dreams, visions, and coincidences — also makes her like the historian who can only search for meaning a postiori. In this performative lecture Schneemann she will discuss the symbolic and associative links that she continues to uncover amongst her varied works.

Schneemnn’s lecture will be held at 205 Hudson Street, Hunter Studios Auditorium, 2nd floor.

February 27, 6.30pm–8.30pm,

Poetry Parade for Hortense Fiquet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
As a young girl searching for female painters in the pantheon of art history, Carolee Schneemann mistook Cézanne for a woman’s name, “Céz-Anne.” Later, in the early 70s, she re-appropriated her childhood confusion as a banner for exploring how women had been misrepresented in the arts, publishing a collection of writings titled Cézanne: She Was a Great Painter. On the occasion of the Metropolitan Museum’s current exhibition Madame Cézanne, The Artist’s Institute revisits the significance of Schneemann’s alternative readings of art and artifacts with a new iteration of the live reading series Poetry Parade by A.K Burns and Katherine Hubbard. Moving through several of the Met’s galleries, the parade will present readings by nine artists and thinkers who have paired texts with works in the museum’s collection, engaging them, either as homage, confrontation or companion. Taking Madame Cézanne’s maiden name, Poetry Parade for Hortense Fiquet, reconsiders the contributions of women in the arts, not as muses, props, wives, or possessions but as active participants.

Readers include Malin Arnell, Fia Backström, A. K. Burns, Barbara Hammer, Katherine Hubbard, Eileen Myles, Jennifer Rosenblit, Carolee Schneemann, and Lanka Tattersall. The parade route traverses the galleries of Egyptian Art (Gallery 115) at 6:30 PM; galleries of Greek and Roman Art (Gallery 156) at 7:15 PM; and the Madame Cézanne exhibition gallery in the Robert Lehman Wing at 8:00 PM. Special thanks to the Education Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

February 13, 6pm–8pm,

Exhibition Opening.
There are those who say that mainstream culture has conspired against Friday the 13th because the date’s symbolism is so rich with the taboos of feminine fortuity: Friday was named after the Norse goddess of sexuality, and there are thirteen full moons guiding the menstrual cycle each year.  A most auspicious beginning, then, for Carolee Schneemann’s season.

Recordings

“Schneemann and Shaman,” July 14th 2015, 7pm with Michael Taussig

“Nonhuman Rights,” May 29, 7pm with Steve Wise