Carolee Schneemann: Body Rushes
11 July 2019
Join us for a celebration of the work of trailblazing artist Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019), whose practice explored the body—often her own—as a site for questioning representation, boundaries, and social constraints.
This free screening, Body Rushes, presents four key works by the artist, accompanied by discussions about Schneemann’s artistic influence with Professor Susan Best, artist Naomi Blacklock, and film programmer John Edmond.
Please note: this screening contains content of a graphic sexual nature and is not suitable for people under 18 years.
Meat Joy | Carolee Schneemann | 1964/2010, 10:33 minutes
Meat Joy is a group performance as Dionysian ritual. Performers undress and celebrate “flesh as material” as they writhe and interact with raw chicken, fish, and sausages, wet paper, ropes, brushes, and more, turning towards psychic wildness and abandonment. Soundtracked by a collage of pop songs, traffic noise, and field recordings of the rue de Seine grocery vendors, heard while Schneemann composed the piece.
This iteration draws from the original film footage of three 1964 performances of Meat Joy at its first staged performance at the Festival de la Libre Expression, Paris, Dennison Hall, London, and Judson Church, New York City.
Fuses | Carolee Schneemann | 1967, 29:37 minutes
An erotic film featuring Schneeman and her partner James Tenney, presented as if from the perspective and Schneeman’s cat Kitch. The film was broadly conceived in response to the lack emotion in pornography and specifically in response to her friend Stan Brakhage’s intimate Loving (1957), also of Schneemann and Tenney, and Window Water Baby Moving (1959), of Brakhage’s wife Jane giving birth.
Constructed over three years, Fuses reveals Schneemann’s painterly impulses in her abrasion of the footage: dipping it in acid, baking it in an oven, cutting, scratching, painting, then collaging it together to produce a physical and tactile work.
Plumb Line | Carolee Schneemann | 1971, 14:27 minutes
A plumb line is a tool used to measure the vertical depth or reference point of a space; it is a line attached to a weight. Schneemann uses it to centre her despair over the dissolution of her long-term relationship with James Tenney, which lasted from 1955 to 1968. Assembled from outtakes, diary, and holiday footage, Schneemann spent three years splitting, dissolving, and abrading nostalgic footage of Tenney.
Up To and Including Her Limits | Carolee Schneemann | 1976/1984, 29 minutes
Up To and Including Her Limits extends on the principles of Jackson Pollock‘s physicalised painting process, coined ‘action painting’. Schneemann is suspended from a rope harness, naked and drawing. This video captures the concentration and raw intensity of Schneemann’s presence and use of her own body.
The piece was edited by Schneemann in 1984 from video footage of six performances: the Berkeley Museum, 1974; London Filmmaker’s Cooperative, 1974; Artists Space, NY, 1974; Anthology Film Archives, NY, 1974; The Kitchen, NY, 1976; and the Studio Galerie, Berlin, 1976.
All works courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix.
Professor Susan Best
Professor Susan Best is an art historian with expertise in critical theory and modern and contemporary art. Her third book, Reparative Aesthetics: Witnessing in Contemporary Art Photography (Bloomsbury 2016), offers a new way of thinking about the role of politically engaged art.
Naomi Blacklock is an Anglo-Indian artist based in Brisbane, Australia who works primarily with sound installation, text works and performance. Her artworks involve an exploration and examination of mythologies, archetypes and harmful histories of gender and cultural identity. Her ritualised sound objects and performances are intended to amplify the body and the voice through performative bodily precision and aural screaming.
John Edmond is an academic and curator. He is the Director of the Queensland Film Festival and an Associate Curator (film) at UQ Art Museum. John is also the author of a forthcoming monograph on Ken Russell’s Altered States, and edits a series on significant contemporary filmmakers.