We are sorry to learn of the death of feminist artist Carolee Schneemann, best known for her performance pieces Meat Joy and Interior Scroll. Several of our books feature or engage with Schneemann’s innovative and influential work.
In 2010 we published Correspondence Course: An Epistolary History of Carolee Schneemann and Her Circle, edited by Duke University Professor of Art Kristine Stiles. The book collects correspondence between Schneemann and those she called “her tribe,” including composer James Tenney, the filmmaker Stan Brakhage, the artist Dick Higgins, the dancer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer, the poet Clayton Eshleman, and the psychiatrist Joseph Berke.
Our 2000 book M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists’ Writings, Theory, and Criticism features an interview with Schneemann by Aviva Rahmani. In the interview, about the censorship of her work, Shneemann says, “My work within erotic and political taboos has been fueled by the constraints of sexism, but my work has offended both men and women, and been defended by both women and men; my work has offended granting agencies and institutions, and been supported by granting agencies and institutions. I like the margins to slip on . . . the uncertainty. From the margins I’ve been free to attack, to sniff out the leaking repressions and denial of subordination.”
The 2007 collection Women’s Experimental Cinema contains an article by M.M. Serra and Kathryn Ramey entitled “Eye/Body: The Cinematic Paintings of Carolee Schneemann,” which begins with a quote from Schneemann: “I’m still a painter and I will always be in essence a painter. . . . Painting doesn’t have to mean that you’re holding a brush in your hand. It might or it might not. It might be a camera. It might be a microphone. It might be your own body that when you go inside the frame and when you adjust your focus you see that the materiality of what you’re working with might include yourself in a force
field.” The authors analyze Schneeman’s use of her own body in her art. They conclude, “Carolee Schneemann persistently enacts the ‘eye/body,’ the seeing, active artist agent and continues to make work that challenges convention and expands our understanding of what painting, performance, and film are or can be.”
Kristine Stiles says, “Carolee Schneemann’s legacy will remain vibrant in her consummately original work. It was a privilege to be her friend for some forty years, however tumultuous. I will miss our regular Sunday telephone calls, her brilliant mind, lively sense of humor, and intrepid devotion to art.” We join Stiles in mourning this important artist.