22 Jan – 12 Apr 2015
TMH is pleased to present Infinity Kisses, an exhibition of photographs, works on paper, and a video by the renowned American multimedia artist CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN.
A pioneer of body and performance art, feminist art, expanded cinema, and intermedia art, Schneemann is one of the most significant artists to have emerged from the avant-garde circles of early 1960s New York. A painter who burst off the canvas to privilege space, motion, and the body, while radically transforming the media she explored, Schneemann has made an invaluable contribution to postwar art; she has paved the way for practices as diverse as those of Marina Abramovic and Matthew Barney.
The experiential body—not only her own—has been paramount in Schneemann’s revolutionary politics and idiosyncratic poetics. Focusing on the photographic series (2004) and video (2008) Infinity Kisses, which sensually portray the morning kisses Schneemann received from her cats, the exhibition shifts attention away from Schneemann’s own naked body. It illuminates the radical role that the nonhuman, feline body plays in her late erotics by foregrounding the centrality of the cat in her life and art, as companion and as a symbol. The introduction of Schneemann’s interspecies “kisses” with a site-specific installation that evokes her home highlights the domestic themes of her poetics of intimacy.
In contrast to the ecstatic bodies of Infinity Kisses, several of the accompanying works feature gruesome images of violated cats along with news of global atrocities. Sampling the gestural painterliness and collage aesthetics that underlie her practice, these prints hint at the darker role the body plays in Schneemann’s sorrowful diagnosis of Western civilization’s malaises.
An extraordinary example of Schneemann’s conceptual mastery, Unexpectedly Research (1992) illuminates the research and “double knowledge” that support her feminist critique of the suppression of the feminine and her radical retrieval of the sacred erotic.
From Infinity Kisses, 1990-98
Self-shot 35 mm lifachrome prints, 2004
48 x 56 cm, each
Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019, US) was a multidisciplinary artist famous for invention, provocation, and canonical contributions to Postwar Art. She has always felt that she was “a painter who had in effect enlarged her canvas” to the third dimension and new materials. A pioneer of feminist performance with a sixty-year career, Schneemann has transformed the very definition of art by creating work based on research in archaic visual traditions, pleasure wrested from taboos, and the body of the artist in relation to the social body. She was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017). In 2018, her major retrospective, Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting, was seen at MoMA PS1, New York, following other museum presentations.