On a trip to LA back in 2007, we visited took in the Whack! Art and the Feminist Revolution exhibit at MOCA. I regret not having seen the exhibit when it later traveled to PS1 because my impression of the installation in LA was of an un-congealed mess and I may have had an improved perception of it in another venue. There was a lot of great work by a range of notable artists which suffered by the wholesale lumping together of it with less successful work, all in the broader interest and exhibit. Certainly, the purpose of the exhibit was to chronicle of the development of the Feminist movement through works of the time; perhaps more appropriate fodder for a book than an exhibit. Nontheless, walking through the exhibit was an experience; one that was oddly like that of visiting the Vietnam Memorial in DC. Along with us in the galleries were visitors - obvious veterans of the time- walking through the exhibit with the air of making a pilgrimage to remember their comrades and their own experiences from the time of this struggle. Although I found the exhibit overly nostalgic, I appreciated the programming choice in pairing Whack! with Andrea Zittel: Critical Space, and a MoCA organized exhibit of pre-fab housing at the Pacific Design Center called Some Assembly Required. The web of domesticity/gender roles/lifemaking issues that ran through the three exhibits was broad, brilliant stroke -BTW, the Zittel show was majorly engrossing.
The one moment that highlighted my experience in Whack! which will stay with me forever is beholding the actual scroll that Carolee Schneemann used in her piece Interior Scroll from 1975. I have often seen photos documenting the performance piece in which the nude artist reads from a long thin scroll of paper that she pulls from her hoohaa, but was the first time I had privilege of seeing (and even pondering) this piece of ephemera. It was impressive.
Narrow, yellowed and brittle looking and, if my recollection serves, with bits of clear tape to join pieces of paper to achieve the length of three to four feet; I was stunned by the decrepit nature of the artifact. I don't know how long it rested up there inside her body, but the condition of this scroll immediately brought to mind the Dead Sea Scrolls - and they sat in their respective caves for nearly 2000 years and don't look much worse for wear than this holy relic from the 70's, which reveals much about the climatic differences between the vagina and the Dead Sea region.
Carolee Schneeman and her work, which is the subject of a survey exhibition entitled Carolee Schneemann: Within and Beyond the Premises at the Samuel Dorsky Museum in New Paltz, NY will also be the subject of a panel discussion tomorrow afternoon from 2 to 4 pm at the Rosendale Theater in Rosendale NY (408 Main St.) The panel, which has been organized in connection with the exhibit will be populated by: Emily Caigan (SUNY New Paltz Women's Studies), Maura Reilly (American Federation of Arts), Brian Wallace (Dorsky Museum), Linda Weintraub (independant scholar), Kenneth White (Stanford University) and moderator Patricia Phillips (RISD).
A screening of select film and video works by the artist will follow the discussion at 5 pm. Admission is $6, $4 for students. Call 845.658.8989 for more info.