“Could a nude woman artist be both image and image-maker?” – Carolee Schneemann
To say that Carolee Schneemann, who passed away last month, was a legendary painter, photographer, and performance artist is to miss the point, almost, of her six-decade-long body of work. I mean that phrase literally, since Schneemann used her body to stage intricate and taboo feminist dramas in a way no one else has ever done. Schneeman explored desire, sex, oppression, and—yes—joy, in ways that were confrontational, sometimes brutal, and almost always ephemeral. It is difficult to explain her work without having seen it, and it is doubly difficult when, as Maggie Nelson says in her excellent article in the New Yorker:
“…I also can’t help feeling that to consistently deem someone an underrated living legend is also to practice a certain repetitive distortion, whereby all praise or estimation begins to register more as corrective than insight. Similarly complicated, when it comes to Carolee’s work, is the question of suppression and censorship.”
Read more about this fascinating artist, and, if you can, see her work.
Photo of the artist from the author’s postcard of “Carolee Schneemann: Up To And Including Her Limits,” 1997, at the New Museum; a still from the film “Meat Joy.”