New review: Mysteries of the Iconographies

// 5 October 2009

Artist Carolee Schneemann may be best-known for ‘Interior Scroll’, in which she read from a scroll she extracted from her vagina. But, at 70, her influence stretches far beyond that one famous performance piece. Kaite Welsh attended her recent lecture at the Tate Liverpool

For the past 50 years, Carolee Schneemann has shocked, provoked and inspired audiences with her multidisciplinary, taboo-shattering artwork.

And yet, even now, she remains a footnote in art history, having faced censorship from both the mainstream establishment who found her ahead of her time, and from supposedly more radical edges of the art world. Even some feminist critics, who one would expect to embrace her radical discourses on sexuality and the body, have dismissed her as ‘narcissistic’ and ‘exhibitionist’.

Her performance lecture, Mysteries of the Iconographies, which she recently performed as part of the Tate Liverpool’s Abandon Normal Devices Festival, is a timely reminder that Schneemann may be one of the most influential, yet overlooked, artists of her generation.

Wielding a large staff like a thyrsus, she strode onstage, looking ever inch the goddess a colleague once described her as.

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