Carolee Schneemann

(b. 1939)

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(1939– )

American Performance artist, film-maker and painter. She began her career as a painter but became involved in avant-garde Performance in New York in the early 1960s. From this period dates Meat Joy (1964), performed in both Paris and New York, a multimedia event in which men and women, dressed only in special fur-lined underwear, crawled over each other, handling raw meat. Marcel Duchamp, in the Paris audience, called it the messiest thing he had ever seen. Fuses, a film completed in 1967, used explicit erotic scenes with her lover, the composer James Tenney, with their cat looking on. The footage was, in Schneeman's words, ‘heavily collaged, with feathers, inks, different textures glued on to the film’. The result has since been acclaimed as a classic piece of feminist erotica in that it is concerned with the female experience of love-making as opposed to providing voyeuristic pleasure to the male spectator. Both film and performance were certainly a contrast to the squeaky clean sexual imagery provided by both Pop art and the mass media in the 1960s. Schneeman's most notorious performance was Interior Scroll (1975). In this piece she stood naked in front of the audience, extracting a forty inch scroll from her vagina from which she read a text detailing the discrimination and disdain suffered by women artists. Since that time she has continued to work in a variety of media and has been regarded as an inspirational figure by younger feminist artists.

Subjects: Art.

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