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Carolee Schneemann

FEMINIST ART - Artist Carolee Schneemann gives new meaning to feminist art. She's more of a punk artist than anything else.

She is probably most known for her performance art piece entitled Interior Scroll (1975). From the accounts others have written it seems she would peel off her clothing, cover herself in mud (or paint?), and then extract a scroll from her vagina and read it. The image I have posted to the right is from the Tate website and apparently the writing on the side is from the vaginal scroll. How daring is that?! Love it or hate it.

She says of this piece: "I thought of the vagina in many ways-- physically, conceptually: as a sculptural form, an architectural referent, the sources of sacred knowledge, ecstasy, birth passage, transformation. I saw the vagina as a translucent chamber of which the serpent was an outward model: enlivened by it's passage from the visible to the invisible, a spiraled coil ringed with the shape of desire and generative mysteries, attributes of both female and male sexual power. This source of interior knowledge would be symbolized as the primary index unifying spirit and flesh in Goddess worship."

Among many in your face installations/performances/films (she was also a painter among other things) another one of note is Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions (1963). Here Schneemann covers herself in her environment while Icelandic artist Erró photographs. She says:

"I wanted my actual body to be combined with the work as an integral material-- a further dimension of the construction... I am both image-maker and image. The body may remain erotic, sexual, desired, desiring, but it is as well votive: marked, written over in a text of stroke and gesture discovered by my creative female will."

Unfortunately she was "pigeon holed" and typecasted as an "erotic artist". She was unhappy with this because she wanted not to be this delicate female erotic image but hardcore, ugly, in your face, I don't fuck around sexuality: a quality that more die hard feminists appreciate

Carolee Schneemann's collaborative art includes the performance piece Meat Joy (1964). In her words:  

"Meat Joy has the character of an erotic rite: excessive, indulgent, a celebration of flesh as material: raw fish, chickens, sausages, wet paint, transparent plastic, rope brushes, paper scrap. It's propulsion is toward the ecstatic-- shifting and turning between tenderness, wilderness, precision, abandon: qualities which could at any moment be sensual, comic, joyous, repellent."

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