Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019)
Art Is Reactionary (1987)
1987 Art Is Reactionary
Video, sound, color.
A solo performance in which Schneemann splits in half to move between a continuous slide relay; a Marxist, dialectical, feminist, semiotic deconstruction of art world pieties and fetishes.

Art Is Reactionary is the 10-minute video recording of a performance by Carolee Schneemann dating from 1987.

Carolee Schneemann shares the stage with her ideal double, an African American. On a stage, the two women start their story using the heralding expression of fairy tales: “Once upon a time...” They speak into the same microphone, their voices combine and each becomes the echo of the other.

Three people stand downstage, like a Classical chorus. A woman flanked by two men dialogues with the two performers through their voices, but also by an alternating play of the black and white of their clothes and skin.

Slides relating to sexuality, close ups of sexual organs, are projected on stage. Schneemann and her double move within the field of projection of the images while reciting a text dealing with the role of women in society and the question of feminism in artistic practice.

A recurrent question marks the works of Carolee Schneemann: “How can I have authority as both an image and an image-maker?”. She explains that the body of a woman is shaped throughout her life through the intervention of religion, social taboos and representations from the history of art.

This title is available for exhibitions, screenings, and institutional use through Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), NY. Please visit the EAI Online Catalogue for further information about this artist and work. The EAI site offers extensive resources for curators, students, artists and educators, including: an in-depth guide to exhibiting, collecting, and preserving media art; A Kinetic History: The EAI Archives Online, a collection of essays, primary documents, and media charting EAI's 40-year history and the early years of the emergent video art scene; and expanded contextual and educational materials.