Closing Soon: Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting at MoMA PS1
Kinetic Painting, on view at MoMA PS1 through March 11, offers a thorough retrospective of artist Carolee Schneemann’s expansive career. Recognized for works like Interior Scroll (1975), Schneemann is associated with second wave feminist art, using her body as both medium and subject—perhaps this is why it comes as a surprise that Schneemann considers herself a painter. Much like her feminist artist contemporaries, Schneemann is drawn to themes of temporality, subjectivity, and the body, which is conveyed in her multimedia works, including films and performances. While Schneemann’s background in painting is extensively represented in the exhibition (the second floor features numerous early works on board and canvas), it may be equally productive to identify and consider Schneemann as a conceptual artist.
Schneemann’s incorporation of conceptual visual strategies can be seen in works like Infinity Kisses (1981-88). Documenting her morning ritual of kissing her cat in a series of photographs, Schneemann presents her relationship with her pet in a serial manner. Each depicting a cropped portrait of the artist with her cat, the photographs are organized into a grid, emphasizing the same-but-different quality of each image. The systematic mapping of personal and diaristic content can also be seen in Schneemann’s earlier works, particularly Sexual Parameters Charts (1969–75). Surveying a number of women on their sexual experiences with men, Schneemann quantifies the intimate interactions to methodical fill a table chart (including age, nationality, duration, frequency, body, hands, mouth, and genital size). Directly engaging themes of the body and language, Schneeman’s charts demonstrate how conceptual practices can serve issues of human sexuality.
While Kinetic Paintings thoroughly captures Schneemann’s wide-ranging visual strategies, ultimately it demonstrates the artist’s transdisciplinary approach is what makes Schneemann a successful feminist artist.