I went to see Body Politics, the exhibition of Carolee Schneemann’s work at the Barbican.
The show starts with Schneemann’s paintings from the late 50s.
In the early 60s Schneemann started breaking the physical structure of her paintings, whilst still retaining the expressive surfaces.
Schneemann moved on to working in “assemblages” in the early 60s, and met Jospeh Cornell, who produced his box-paintings. She also produced the “controlled burning” works.
She took photographs of herself as an artwork in the studio.
From the mid 60s she was involved with Judson Dance Theater and they created improvisational group works such as Meat Joy. From this point a lot of her work is recorded in film and video or still photos, though she also worked on installations.
This copy of the Los Angeles Free Press, which has a few future big names scattered across it, includes a review of the show in which “Panavision 70 penis meets mammoth vagina”.
She worked on a show called Fuses. I wonder if that is the source for the Stereolab track “Fuses“, since they also did one called “Brakhage“, and some of Schneemann’s film work was in response to Stan Brakhage.
She made works responding to news footage of the Vietnam War and also series of installations about Lebanon, such as “War Mop” (1983). The mop goes up and down against the TV set, on a mechanical cycle:
The “Mortal Coils” (1994-5) installation, where the ropes slowly twist:
She was still producing painted canvases as well:
Two views of “Venus Vectors” (1987):
“Terminal Velocity” (2001-5), was her computer-printed composite of newspaper photographs of bodies falling the World Trade Center as it burned. It is shown here in its own section, behind a veil and with a warning that it includes images from the event. I don’t remember if the images from Vietnam War coverage included earlier in the exhibition come with a similar note.
The final section are works that she produced after being diagnosed and treated for cancer in the 90s. There is also a selection of esoteric works she had on her bookshelf, with many volumes about witchcraft and the occult and so on.