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68 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Art, Experimental
DIRECTOR: Carolee Scheemann
Carolee Schneemann is not only an American original—she is a hero and a survivor.
Beginning as an abstract expressionist painter, and painting with passion even today, she has tackled all media: photography, film, video, installation, performance, various forms of print, and spoken word. Her works have been exhibited in major museums and galleries throughout the world, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art at Los Angeles, and the London National Film Theatre. Thousands of public lectures and dozens of books have also brought her to the attention of millions.
Schneemann has pursued her ideals with courageous dedication for almost half a century by doing what she had to—namely, speak the truth through her art, no matter the consequences. And the consequences have been considerable—considerably positive for world culture and yet, in many instances, considerably negative for her personally. Censorship has been a constant in her career—which is hardly a surprise given that two of her main concerns are sex and politics; she has dared to make subject matter of everything from female genitalia to antiwar protesting. A recent exhibit on the 9/11 disaster in New York City earned her a death threat.
Yet the antique notion that women, like children, should be seen but not heard, was an outrage that early on required this woman to speak. Arguably, she invented feminist performance art in this country and in Europe via works that can still shock even today.
Thus, to call her cutting edge would be to make a grave understatement. She has steered a steady course right into the heart of convention and its supposed wisdom. Her example is indeed exemplary, and her vision is both personal and political in the best sense, offering us a better future. We need it now more than ever.
Denver Art Museum
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