Apartment Talk #4: Carolee Schneemann (Co-organized with Melissa Ragona and CMU School of Art)
Legendary multidisciplinary artist Carolee Schneemann was recently in town to give a lecture at Carnegie Mellon University, and dropped in at the Lawrenceville apartment on October 19th to share a couple videos and some great stories. More than 50 people turned out to see Americana I Ching Apple Pie (1972/2007) and Mysteries of the Pussies (1998/2010) (descriptions after the jump), which are based on performances the artist did years ago, but which still feel as fresh, funny, and provocative as ever.
Before making her way over to the apartment, Carolee met me for coffee at the Museum. I meant to give her a tour of the collection galleries, but we ended up poring over the contents of a folder marked “Carolee Schneemann” from the old Film Section files. The file includes a few real gems from the 1970s, like collages and lovingly adorned letters that Carolee sent then film curator, Sally Dixon, during the fledgling years of the Carnegie’s film program. Dixon invited Schneemann to screen her controversial film Fuses (1967) at the Museum in 1973, a bold move during a conservative period in the museum’s history (we screened it again in 2010 in conjunction with the exhibition Ordinary Madness to much uncomfortable fidgeting and clearing of throats, but no critical hoopla). The artist also presented a performance about her friend Joseph Cornell at the museum in 1978; hopefully I’ll be able to post related video in future, upon completion of our film and video preservation project.
A few things from Carolee’s film file, and images from her presentation at the apartment follow.
Mysteries of the Pussies (1998); edit completed 2010
Approx. 6 min, color, sound
Mysteries of the Pussies presents a spontaneous physical and verbal interaction between Schneemann and the very beautiful librarian from Pori Art Museum, Finland. Spoken in both English and Finnish, their dialogue examines a collage of feminist issues contrasted within slide projections of amorous cats. Charming and erotic.
Americana I Ching Apple Pie (1972); new edit 2007
16:36 minutes, color, sound, 16mm film on DVD
Scheeman: “The Americana I Ching Apple Pie recipe was first enacted in my Belsize, London kitchen in 1972. Unfortunately, the original footage disappeared with the man doing the documentation who may have been working for the CIA. The next presentation was May ’77, as a cooking event for the Heresies Magazine performance and jumble sale benefit. With the exception of a dozen apples, flour, maple syrup, and eggs which I brought, all the cooking “material,” utensils, and props were discovered in the jumble. Objects which functionally approximated actual cooking utensils were used: nails, hammers, an arrow, a flower pot, ball bearings, rags, watering can. The cook’s apron was a ripped mini skirt with which I covered my hair. As I state in the performance, ‘traditionally you need an apron, but it doesn’t matter where you put it.'”