Carolee Schneemann


From Then and Beyond

November 4 – December 30 2018

Kunsthalle Winterthur is pleased to present From Then and Beyond, Carolee Schneemann’s (b. 1939, lives and works in New Paltz) first solo show in Switzerland, curated by Oliver Kielmayer and Lara Pan. Carolee Schneemann’s pioneering work traverses the boundaries of performance, film, painting, and photography. Initially trained as a painter, she became interested in the body as a material and expanded into other disciplines, bringing her into contact with avant-garde groups such as Judson Dance Theater, Fluxus, Happenings in the milieu of 1960s New York. In her study of art history, Schneemann was struck by constant depictions of the female nude – beautiful and entirely passive, fit to be a muse though women were rarely elevated as artists in their own right. In her work, she uses her own nude figure to claim agency as a subject, to situate herself as both “image and image maker.” Her formative years as an artist occurred during great social and political upheavals during the 1960s and 70s – the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Sexual Revolution, and the explosion of feminist thought – with many of these issues still relevant to current events. Her contribution to the empowerment of women in art and her endless motivation and persistence has left a valuable legacy to the younger generation of female artists.
Following major retrospective exhibitions in Salzburg and New York, From Then and Beyond focuses on the use of language; on narrative and discursive aspects of it, to be more precise. Schneemann often uses personal narrative and her own body to explore aspects of female experience and embodiment – this exhibition aims to provide an entry point into her work through this intimate narrative aspect. A major emphasis thus is on video documentations of performance lectures, when the artist herself is talking: Ask the Goddess (1991/2010), Americana I Ching Apple Pie(2007), Mysteries of the Pussies (1998/2010), and Pinea Silva: Lost Meanings of the Christmas Tree (2012) are four videos, edited by Schneemann herself from footage of the same name performances. They are complemented with an interview, published by edition fink as part of Performance Saga in 2008, and a recording of her lecture Mysteries of the Iconographies (2009) at Portland Community College in 2011.
In another room, ABC - We Print Anything - In the Cards, presumably the artist's most text-based work, will be shown as a 3 channel video projection. Originally published in 1977 as an edition together with Brummense Uitgeverij Van Luxe Werkjes in Beuningen, the work comprised a blue handmade box with 156 photos and the same number of cards in three colours. On the blue cards conversations between Carolee Schneemann, her then-leaving partner Anthony McCall, and new love Bruce McPherson are written; on the yellow cards fragments from dreams or diary entries; and on the red ones comments by friends and artists. The show is completed by a selection of photographs, including Eye Body (1963), Correspondence Course (triptych) (1981/1983), and Ask the Goddess (1990). The exhibition will have a follow up in the form of a publication: based on substantial conversations with Schneemann, it will offer a precious view into a rich biography, but more: the close interconnection of Schneemann's art and life will also provide an insight into conditions of production of an exceptional artist.

Oliver Kielmayer