An Evening With Carolee Schneemann (Carolee Schneemann)
A long look at a six foot tall close-up vagina was not something I expected to see early on a Monday morning. Not knowing what to expect, I ventured to the press-screening of “An Evening With Carolee Schneemann” (Wednesday, November 19, Sharp Auditorium, Denver Art Museum). It was a bit much to take in before coffee.
Carolee Scheemann is a world renowned artist of several mediums, one of which is film. She approaches film with heavy abstract, sexual, political, post-modern and anti-conventional themes. Her collection of films being show at Starz includes a few of her works, including “Meat Joy,” “Fuses,” “Interior Scroll,” and “Infinity Kisses.”
Schneemann’s works have been exhibited in major museums such as The London National Film Theatre, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
This conglomeration of films starts with Meat Joy, which Schneemann created in 1964. Meat Joy sets the atmosphere for the other films that follow. Symbolic imagery is a recurring theme in these films; sometimes the symbolism is extremely abstract, while at other times, it’s very straight forward and in your face, so to speak.
Schneemann’s artistic celluloid is very hard to describe in words, and can only be conceived through a personal viewing experience. Indeed, my mind still has problems collecting all the imagery and sounds included. They were, to me, a sensory overload, but perhaps I can accredit that to my lack of abstract art education.
Considering the time that most of these films were made, I can understand how they may have been ground-breakingly original. Perhaps they are and I’ve been desensitized by modern filmmaking (which, very well, may have been influenced by Schneemann).
In acknowledgment of my ignorance in this genre of film I cannot recommend avoiding this film. Perhaps to the better trained artistic, post-modern type, these films are unrivaled. However, to my untrained self they are nothing more than crude imagery and sensory over-indulgence in a seemingly desperate attempt at vulgarity, shock, un-convention, and controversy.