Dear Carolee: Carolee Schneeman in Letters
27.11.14, 6-9pm; remarks and readings at 7pm
134 Ossington Street
Dear Carolee: Carolee Schneemann in Letters – organized by Kunstverein Toronto and hosted at G Gallery – is an alternative retrospective of the life and work of the groundbreaking artist Carolee Schneemann.
Schneemann cemented her place in art history in the 1960s with radical feminist performances in which her own body was her instrument. Though best known for Meat Joy (1964) and Interior Scroll (1975), Schneemann has lead a prolific and varied life as an artist (she refuses to call it a career), producing experimental films, artist books, installations and lecture performances that consistently pushed against conventions of sexuality, aesthetics, and the role of the artist. Throughout, Schneemann wrote and retained hundreds of letters to friends, lovers, poets, dancers, directors, critics and curators in which she discusses and defines her life, her practice and her position in a tirelessly patriarchal art world. She wrote frequently, candidly and spontaneously, censoring little.
The exhibition proposes an epistolary retrospective of Schneemann’s life and work.Taking her letters as the starting point, the exhibition will present – for the first time – a series of letters, writings, ephemera, artist books and films produced by Schneemann and her correspondents that create an interior view into Schneemann’s practice and politics. Through these letters – written and saved from 1956 to the present – one sees how ideas are developed through conversation and collaboration; how Schneemann’s peers (counting Stan Brakhage, Yvonne Rainer and Dick Higgins among her frequent correspondents) influenced her and she them.
Fifty years after Meat Joy, this exhibition builds a portrait of Schneemann from her own written record, from the conversations that developed and sustained her practice over time. The letters place Schneemann’s mind over her body, introducing a richness of understanding around an artist whose career is still firmly anchored to the sensationalism of her famous early performances.
Every Thursday during the exhibition, guest readers will present selections from Schneemann’s correspondence. On December 18, join us for the launch of a new edition of Schneemann’s iconic artist’s book, Cezanne, She Was a Great Painter (1974).
Carolee Schneemann: b. 12 October 1939 grew up in Penna. & Vt. a painter who has worked with bodies light movement technologies industrial environments natural environments heat sound collage music musicians dancers cooks ropes steel girders water snow mud cars crowds groups troupes rocks fire meat chickens blood glass trees pastures passionate compassionate funny angry generous selfish shy aggressive self determined needing constant approval can’t miss a party must have time alone sophisticated naïve organic gardener lives in the country lives in the city*
*A biography of Carolee Schneemann, as printed in elima: a journal of writing, issue 1, 1973
Dear Carolee is made possible thanks to Kunstverein Toronto’s members, G Gallery, P.P.O.W., the Getty Research Institute, the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections at York University, Sarah Robayo Sheridan, the Canada Council for the Arts, and above all, Carolee Schneemann. Kunstverein Toronto would like to acknowledge Kristina Stiles’ excellent edited volume of Schneemann’s letters, Correspondence Course, from which we began our research.
View exhibition documentation