The Seven Best Quotes from Carolee Schneemann’s ‘Guardian’ Interview

Carolee Schneemann, Interior Scroll (1975). Photo by Anthony McCall, courtesy of Grazyna Kulczyk Collection , the Estate of Carolee Schneemann, Galerie Lelong & Co, Hales Gallery, PPOW New York. ©Carolee Schneemann.

Body art pioneer Carolee Schneemann, long known for exploring topics of sexuality and gender in her work, is the subject of her first UK solo show in the UK, at Hales Gallery through April 12. The performance artist spoke with the Guardian about the reception of her envelope-pushing work—which has often been negative. Here are seven of the article’s most memorable quotes:

“My work became a bridge that had to be crossed by young feminists working with their bodies.”

“I was always discouraged,” she says. “Even when I had a fellowship for painting, some of my teachers were very hostile. ‘You’re taking this too seriously. You’re only a girl. Don’t set your heart on art.’ My boyfriends in college stole my brushes and my books, like, ‘We need this more than you do.'”

She later wrote that she felt like the “cunt mascot on the men’s art team”

“I called it being the image and the image-maker,” Schneemann says. “The female nude is part of a revered tradition, although she is not to take authority over depictions of her nudity. She is just to be available.”

“I thought it would be seen as an integrated, powerful event. It wasn’t. It was taken as narcissism and self-indulgence by the critics. They said, ‘If you want to paint, put your clothes back on.’ It’s always been like that.”

Then one of her chickens got stuck in a sink, causing a flood of bloody water. “The performance was derelict. It was inane. My leading guy was completely drunk on beer and couldn’t walk properly. London was the worst.”

“I never thought I was shocking,” she says. “I say this all the time and it sounds disingenuous, but I always thought, ‘This is something they need. My culture is going to recognize it’s missing something.'”

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