Carolee Schneemann in Letters
November 27, 2014 to January 10, 2015
Opening: November 27, 6-9 pm; remarks and readings at 7pm
Thursday-Saturday 12-5 pm
Carolee 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, producing experimental films, artist books, installations and lecture-performances that consistently push against conventions of sexuality, aesthetics, and the role of the artist. Throughout, Schneemann has written and retained hundreds of letters to friends, lovers, poets, dancers, directors, critics and curators in which she defines her position in a tirelessly patriarchal art world. She wrote frequently, candidly and instinctively.
Dear Carolee: Carolee Schneemann in Letters – organized by Kunstverein Toronto and hosted at G Gallery – is an alternative, epistolary retrospective of the life and work of the groundbreaking artist Carolee Schneemann. Schneemann refuses to call her life’s work a career: it is her life and her correspondence is her work. For the first time, this exhibition takes Schneemann’s correspondence – from 1956 onwards – as the focal point. A selection of letters is presented alongside writings, ephemera, artist books, photographs and films from the artist and her correspondents – counting Stan Brakhage, Yvonne Rainer, Dick Higgins and James Tenney among them. Fifty years after Meat Joy, Dear Carolee builds a portrait of Schneemann from her own written record, introducing a nuanced understanding of an artist whose work often remains 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, Kunstverein Toronto Publishing launches a new edition of Schneemann’s iconic artist’s book, Cezanne, She Was A Great Painter (1976).
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 and Special Collections at York University, Sarah Robayo Sheridan, Iris Fraser, 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.
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