ON VIEW AT PPOW + GALERIE LELONG 10/21/16 – 12/03/16


Why Carolee Schneemann’s Explorations into Erotic Pleasure Are Even More Powerful Today

Carolee Schneemann with Venus Vectors, 1985. Photography by Victoria Vesna. © Carolee Schneemann. Courtesy of P.P.O.W. and Galerie Lelong.

It began with a simple dream. One fateful night, an umbrella and a bouquet of dried flowers, both shaped like the letter “V,” appeared in the sleeping mind of artist Carolee Schneemann. Not long after, these objects became the crux of Fresh Blood – A Dream Morphology (1981–7), a project that led Schneemann to accumulate hundreds of images of the vagina over the course of six years.

“It was a great biological gift to work for six years with these images that were so…the only word that comes to mind is fruitful,” Schneemann tells me with a laugh, over the phone from her home and studio in upstate New York. Female genitalia is a topic that’s been at the center of the artist’s powerful feminist work for the past 50 years. Today, it’s also notably located at the heart of the U.S. Presidential election’s recent controversy—the emergence of a 2005 tape in which a showboating Donald Trump boasts about grabbing women anywhere he wants, anytime he wants.


Must-See Exhibitions: NYC October 2016

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GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM @ 1071 5TH AVE. (Wed 10-6 | Closed Thu | $18/Student)

NEW MUSEUM @ 235 BOWERY ST. (Wed 11-6 | Thu 11 – 9 | $10/Student)

FURTHER EVIDENCE – EXHIBIT A  @ P.P.O.W. @ 535 WEST 22ND ST. (Wed + Thu 10-6)

PRATT MANHATTAN @ 144 WEST 14TH ST. (Wed 11-6 | Thu 11-8 | FREE)

ARTISTS SPACE @ 55 WALKER ST. (Wed 12-6 | Thu 12-6 | FREE)

MOMA NY @ 11 WEST 53RD ST. (Wed + Thu 10:30- 5:30 | $14/Student)



The Shame Affect – from the Tomkins Institute website article:

When Positive Affects are Thwarted, Shame Happens

Why are shame and pride such central motives? How can loss of face be more intolerable than loss of life? How can hanging the head in shame so mortify the spirit? In contrast to all other affects, shame is an experience of the self by the self. At that moment when the self feels shame, it is felt as a sickness within the self. Shame is the most reflexive of affects in that the distinction between the subject and object of shame is lost. Why is shame so close to the experienced self? It is because the self lives in the face.

Living Archives



Info from the Living Archives Research Project site:

Living Archives addresses the challenges facing the digitized society through (1) the phenomena of public cultural heritage archives that increasingly are being digitized, and (2) the practices of archiving that are dramatically being transformed because of networked technologies.

Researchers in the project see archives as living social resources, which implies shedding the conception that archives are dormant, disembodied narratives of a dominant culture. The project analyzes and prototypes how digital archives for cultural heritage can become social resources, how they can facilitate social change, create cultural awareness and collective collaboration. The project aims to open the process of archiving to embrace contemporary practices associated with open data, mobile media, storytelling, gaming, and performance.

The project develops tools, methods, and best practices, and it is structured through parallel and complementary research strands: Performing Memory and Open Data. Shared concerns for both strands include (1) the use of archive material, (2) mobilizing the archive by moving it onto mobile platforms, (3) planting archives in urban contexts, and (4) exploring how live data communicated by mobile devices might become instant archives.

*NOTE TO SELF: Visit Living Archives website for more information and research projects.

Regina José Galindo

Regina José Galindo is another Elena suggested I look into. She is a performance artist that addresses contemporary issues through her performance work.

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In the YouTube video “The Thing About…”, Regina presented her work and described  a number of performances she’s done. They are deeply disturbing. The piece that sticks with me most from the video I saw today is her piece called “Perra (Bitch)”. It’s a piece based on a series of mysterious murders of women in Guatemala, whose bodies were found in a wide variety of places, but the one thing that linked them together, was the word “perra” had been cut into their body with a knife. Regina’s performance involves her carving the same word into her thigh.

Read: Making Visible the Haunting Absences of Latin America’s Violent History – a Hyperallergic article worth reading about the show: BASTA!, an exhibition that was presented at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a show that reflects on violence in Latin America.

. . .

Looking up more of Regina’s work online, I realize now she is one of the artists Jean Marie presented in our “Art of Getting Lost” workshop and is the artist who created this piece:

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Regina José Galindo, “¿Quien Puede Borrar las Huellas?”
(Who Can Erase the Traces?, 2003), video


Regina walked from the National Palace to the Constitutional Court in Guatemala City with a bowl full of blood, recreating footsteps along the way, in a response to General Rios Montt’s presidential genocide campaign, for which she received the Venice Biennale Golden Lion award and numerous other recognitions.

“I live in a violent country, and that is where my violent art comes from” – Regina José Galindo.

Here she speaks about being – or rather, not being – an activist:

“Any artist creates from a concept, and for a Latin American artist it is very difficult to keep surrounding circumstances at bay. However, there is a huge distance and separation between being an artist with a clear political point of view and being an activist. I respect activists because they are altruistic humans, who will give their lives for the causes they believe in. They get killed and they work to help others, which is totally opposite to an artist’s mind and way of acting. An artist has ego problems and is always looking to find himself. His main objective is himself and no other. With my work, I am not even getting close to offering solutions to problems, and that is why I am not an activist at all.”

Looking at Tanja Ostojic’s Work

One of the artists Elena told me about during out recent meeting is Tanja Ostojic. She is currently in a show at Pratt called Feminism is Politics which I plan to see later this month.

What is interesting about Tanja’s work – at least based on the descriptions I’ve heard and read about her work is that she has done projects that incorporate many different actions/installations/media/collaborations/layers, etc., and so invites closer inspection on how she is organizing/creating these projects.

p1130112One of these (which will be included in the show at Pratt) is her “Misplaced Women?” project – a workshop and performance series that she has presented in a variety of settings all over the world and which involve the unpacking of one’s personal belongings in a public space – an experience common among refugees. In the Borders Section of her Misplaced Women? site, there is a post by Jasmina Tešanović describing her border-crossing experiences – and is, herself, a nomadic writer and creative activist.

I’m thinking about the way she is sending out (delegating) projects/performances to others to do and asking them to share their experience of participating in the project – which is along the same lines as what I was doing/imagined doing with my Collaborative Scroll ~ as well as the Walk Unafraid and Seeing Red pieces…

** NOTE TO SELF: Research Tanja’s process of organizing her projects – both getting them out into the world/community and getting the participants to share their experiences..

Some of the earlier work I’ve looked at/researched so far:

Vacation with Curator” project – a durational performance/experiment intended to create “scandal” and media attention to some degree, while simultaneously exploiting the commonly accepted practice of sleeping with men in order to get ahead in the art world.

Here’s an interview with Tanja in Berlin Art Link on her research on the Roma people and her Eurosceptic views.


Tanja Ostojić – “After Courbet, L´origin du Monde” (2004), poster, artist’s collection; Courtesy of the artist

Here’s some of her writing on Crossing Borders/Development of Diverse Artistic Strategies.

** NOTE TO SELF: Research Tanja’s process of organizing her projects – both getting them out into the world/community and getting the participants to share their experiences..

The Need for Invisibility

While talking with Elena today, our discussion about working with marginalized groups who face – or have faced – tremendous danger (ie Syrian refugees, African Americans, Muslims, undocumented immigrants from South America – all of whom are here in the Berkshires – some are friends, others family, as well as neighbors and newcomers) led me to make a correlation between my own personal need to “be invisible” when I was a child at home in order to escape being abused, and my Colombian neighbor’s need to “be invisible” in order to escape his country and get across the border.

While I no longer face the same threats I faced as a child, my neighbor still lives with the fear of getting caught. While he makes efforts within our community to “be seen” as a hard-working American-loving resident, he may fear being seen by authorities who could send him back to his country.

My nephew is African American. I worry about his safety even though he is now a young man in his twenties, living in New Hampshire – or maybe because he is a young man in his twenties, living in New Hampshire.

Recently, a black student at our local high school was threatened at a football game for kneeling during the National Anthem. His fellow teammate said he was going to “lynch” him.

To me, it’s outrageous to think anyone would say something like that in our cheery little liberal town of Great Barrington (once voted #1 Best Small Town in America).

But to the black student at Monument High School, it is not an anomaly.

In conversations with my sister-in-law and other white parents of black kids, I hear them talk about the fearful thoughts they have going through their heads when their kids are a little late getting home.

They are not the same thoughts I have when my son is late: Did he get into a car accident? Is he ok?  (But to be honest, usually I don’t worry, as I am pretty certain he is not in any danger, and that he probably has just lost track of the time and is still hanging out with his friends.)

For my sister-in-law and other mothers of bi-racial or adopted kids, it’s an entirely different story. They are wondering: Where is he? Did he get pulled over by the police? Has he been killed?

This is one aspect of visibility and invisibility that drives my research.

“What is essential is invisible to the eye.”- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I’ve used this line of Saint-Exupéry’s in a work of art in the past. It was an enormous over-sized version of The Little Prince that I created for a museum exhibition, and it included also an audio recording created by my friend, Karen Cellini.

One of Saint-Exupéry’s original watercolors for The Little Prince

“Man is first animated by invisible solicitations.”

Maria Popova writes here about what the Sahara Desert can teach us about the meaning of life in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book, Letter to a Hostage, “a poignant meditation on the atrocities the World War was inflicting at the scale of the human soul, exploring questions of identity, belonging, empathy, and the life of the spirit amidst death.”

Of the Sahara, Saint-Exupéry writes:

There, one perpetually bathes in the conditions for sheer boredom. And yet invisible divinities build up a net of directions, slopes and signs, a secret and living frame. No more uniformity. Everything takes up a definite position. Even one silence is unlike another silence.