Since the late 1960s, Carolee Schneemann’s work has been linked to the struggles of female artists who sought to construct a perception of the body in artworks as subject rather than object. Performing, Up to and Including Her Limits, in front of a live audience at the time without any clothing was found problematic, primarily because it revealed the woman’s body as expressing emotion and desire and was seen as an outburst of frustration during that period. Although Schneemann’s practice is seen to address feminist issues, it also resides importantly in the context of drawing itself. A large aspect of her work is exploring the body as the material and its involvement of motion. In a conversation with Schneemann during my studies, it became evident that, at the time of making Up to and Including Her Limits, she was also working through issues of temporality, performativity, duration and the body as the material of the work; which has influenced not only how female artists like myself use the body as a tool to draw and think about the developments (or non-developments) of gender issues, but how the field and discipline of drawing has been altered. Today we question what drawing is and how does it relate to performance and the body; these concerns are rooted in her early works.
According to Alison Green, who has intensively studied Schneemann’s work produced between 1969–73: ‘For Schneemann, performance was something balanced between known and unknown, practice and extrapolated, and was aimed at engaging both the performers and the audience in unpredictable ways’. Artists such as Janine Antoni, Marina Abramovic and Matthew Barney have directly or indirectly made reference to her work, and have all worked in historical dialogue. I assume the result of the impact of Schneemann’s work beyond the context of feminism is that because viewers had difficulty accepting and speaking about the work because of its link to political issues; which undoubtedly still exists.
She has championed the importance of both women’s issues both in art and political environments and continues to do so; excitingly, Carolee Schneemann is receiving the Golden Lion award for Lifetime Achievement in Venice this year; one question, how can I get tickets to the ceremony and further help applaud this award?
Carolee Schneemann will be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale, “VIVA ARTE VIVA,” opening on May 13. The decision was made by the Biennale’s board of directors, chaired by Paolo Baratta, upon recommendation of Christine Macel, the curator of this year’s exhibition.