Thursday, 24 April 2014

Carolee Schneemann

Water Light/Water Needle, Carolee Schneemann,
at the Hales Gallery, London E1. 
We went to see this exhibition after reading  Steve Rose's  'I never thought I was shocking' fascinating  review in the Guardian. The text in this post is all taken from his review..
The work in this exhibition is a series of films, sketches and painted photographs of a 1966 performance staged by Schneemann in which performers spinned and danced like trapeze artists on ropes strung high across a church hall in New York. It was inspired by her first trip to Venice in 1965: she was struck by the balance between the sky and the water, the pervading sensation of floating.
Schneeman is now 73 and has spent her life smashing taboos and shocking audiences. She caused outrage in Britain in 1968 when she gave a talk about Cezanne: 'I wore farmer's overalls, she says, and I had lots of oranges stuffed everywhere. I showed slides and talked about Cezanne's influence - and I kept undressing and dressing. I was naked under my overalls and I'd throw these oranges into the audience, like a still life escaping. Then I'd do my overalls back up and continue the lecture. They went a bit nuts. They were outraged, 'what does this mean?' How can she be naked and talk about art history?' But that was the point'. 
Schneemann was at the forefront of movements that later came to be known as body art, performance art and feminist art, paving the way for artists like Marina Abramovic, Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin. 'My work became a bridge that had to be crossed by young feminists working with their bodies'.
In 1975 she performed Interior Scroll, which culminated in Schneemann standing naked on a table and removing a long strip of paper from her vagina, from which she read out an imaginary conversation with a dismissive male film-maker: 'I never thought I was shocking, she says, I always thought, 'This is something they need. My culture is going to recognise it's missing something'.
And: 'I called [the series Eye Body] being the image and the image maker...The female nude is part of a revered tradition, although she is not to take authority over depictions of her nudity. She is just to be available'.
Apologies for all the light reflections on the photographs.













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