CFP: Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics

In her notebooks from 1962-63, Carolee Schneemann declared: “I assume the senses crave sources of maximum information, that the eye benefits by exercise, stretch, and expansion towards materials of complexity and substance, that conditions which alert the total sensibility […] extend insight and response, the basic responsive range of empathetic-kinesthetic vitality”. Working across painting, collage, performance, film, and installation, Schneemann’s radical, experimental approach to sexual expression and gender, form, politics, and personal experience mean that her transgressive and diverse practice is now recognised as pioneering. Exploring her interdisciplinary approach, her engagement with and assessment of urgent political questions, her relationship to feminism, and her connections with wider artistic communities, this day-long symposium will consider Schneemann’s work and legacy. Accompanying the Barbican Art Gallery’s survey of her six-decade oeuvre, which will be the first major exhibition of the artist’s work since her death in 2019, the symposium takes up one of the show’s propositions and examines the ways in which Schneemann challenged, dismantled and expanded the subjects and media she worked with. Interested in considering her long career and innovative experiments with form alongside her explorations of sexual expression, personal politics, and body as a medium, as well as the historical and artistic contexts in which she was working, we seek papers that offer new perspectives on Schneemann’s oeuvre.

Contributions for twenty minute papers are invited that examine Schneemann’s work. Topics might include:

  • Schneemann’s interdisciplinary approach and formal experimentation
  • Schneemann and feminism
  • Connections to wider artistic communities
  • Schneemann’s early work and her relationship to painting
  • Sexual expression, gender, erotics
  • The body as medium
  • Performance and ‘kinetic theatre’
  • Schneemann’s writing
  • Political activism and the personal as political

This full-day symposium will take place on Friday 9th September at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, London. It is co-organised by the Barbican, the Centre for American Art, Courtauld, and the Gender and Sexuality Research Group at the Courtauld.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words and a short bio to rachel.warriner@courtauld.ac.uk by no later than Monday 4th July.

Photograph of a woman suspended on a rope, swinging across a white room covered with black writing
Carolee Schneemann. Up to and Including Her Limits, 10 June 1976, Studiogalerie, Berlin. Photograph by Henrik Gaard. Carolee Schneemann Papers, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (950001) © Carolee Schneemann Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London 2022

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