Taking the influential work of the late American artist Carolee Schneemann (19392019) as a point of departure, Up to and Including Limits: After Carolee Schneemann, running from 29 December 2019 to 28 June 2020 at Muzeum Susch
, illuminates how Schneemanns artistic legacy resonates in the work of generations of artists succeeding her. Featuring over 60 works by 13 artists and collectives, spanning from the 1980s to the present-day, in dialogue with ten seminal works by Schneemann, the exhibition examines the shifting boundaries of disciplines, medium and content in art over time.
Schneemann worked across various mediums ranging from painting, assemblage, to performance, film, video and photography, but primarily understood herself as a painter. She created new forms of art that emerged as paintings literally set in motion. Using her own body, the artists expansive choreographies and installations evolved into what she coined kinetic theatre. In addition to her experimental and multidisciplinary approach to artistic media, Schneemann explored how she can be image and image-maker. She examined her role in society, and struggle for recognition as a woman artist and emancipated and re-determined the representation of women in art through reclaiming the image of the female body in the public realm. The title of the exhibition is taken from one of her seminal pieces, Up to and Including Her Limits (1973-1976). In this work, Schneemann is strapped into a harness and is suspended from the ceiling, using crayons to mark her movements into a large-scale drawing; a work she performed several times before it became transformed into a video installation. By introducing personal subjects, in particular sex and lust from a womans perspective, like in her film Fuses (1964-1967), Schneemann challenged traditional and patriarchal attitudes towards nudity and sexuality. Her approach was considered highly provocative, and at times caused controversies.
Up to and Including Limits: After Carolee Schneemann is curated by Sabine Breitwieser, former Director of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, where she originated the 2015 exhibition Carolee Schneemann, Kinetic Painting, which toured to the Museum für Moderne Kunst MMK, Frankfurt am Main and MoMA PS1, New York. Breitwieser says:
This exhibition is driven by limits, both in media and society: how they can be overcome, transformed and transgressed through time. While Carolees goal was to extend visual principles off the canvas and into life, this exhibition also considers the new challenges and limits our society is confronted with. It is exploring how and in which forms the expansive and innovative use of artistic media further emerge in works of the generation after Carolee Schneemann and what kind of questions in regards to the body are at stake.
This exhibition evaluates how the next generations of artists have experimented with new forms of making and engaged with new contents in art following Schneemanns ground-breaking work from the 1960s and 70s. It asks how artists of the middle and younger generation confront the body and images of nudity and sexuality, in particular the female body which remains pervasive in the public realm. How have these artists explored issues of the media and the emancipated body? What changes have the representation and notion of the body in general undergone? What kind of questions and topics are addressed anew when these artists use their own bodies or address them in various socio-political contexts?
The exhibition is organised as a parcours across the four floors of Muzeum Susch, proposing dialogues between seminal works by Schneemann and works by artists of following generations. Mirroring Schneemanns multidisciplinary approach, the selected artworks range from photography and film to painting, sculpture, performance and choreography.
Raising dialogue across multiple selected works of art is Schneemanns Meat Joy (1964/2008), in which an ensemble of men and women perform orchestrated movements with lighting, sound, and flesh as material in all conceivable forms, from raw fish and chicken to plastic, ropes, paper scrap and paint, what the artists called an opulently ecstatic erotic rite. Both Ragnar Kjartanssons Variation on Meat Joy (2013) and Mette Ingvartsens 69 Positions (2014) directly refer to this work. The latter is part of Ingvartsens The Red Pieces series, exploring relationships between sexuality and the public sphere, and will premier as a video after its celebrated original live performances. Similarly, early works of Pipilotti Rist, who likes to refer to Schneemann and challenges notions of women and sexual desire in popular culture, are included in the show.
In considering the artists expanded notion of artistic medium, the exhibition also challenges the boundaries embedded in Schneemanns own work. Schneemanns Vulvas Morphia (1995) is shown in juxtaposition with Katrina Daschners Zuhälter (1999), a series of collages of knitted body applications, addressing Schneemanns heteronormative perspective. Up to and Including Limits: After Carolee Schneemann shares the ground broken by the artist and the boundaries left to be challenged by artists of our current time.