‘the personal clutter… the painterly mess…’ Tracing a History of Carolee Schneemann's Interior Scroll

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Carolee Schneemann’s performance Interior Scroll has become iconic in twentieth-century art history; however, little attention has been directed towards the artist’s uncommonly active role in managing the reception and historicisation of the work. Schneemann seized the opportunities created by contemporary art’s expanding publishing culture to document and disseminate her work as a professional artist, and she communicated with a coterie of writers, curators and historians to generate a space for her work in the art historical archive. This point of agential labour was essential for a woman artist working prior to, and alongside, the emergence of second-wave feminism. In this article Schneemann’s insistence on ‘mess’ and ‘clutter’ is picked up as a means of conceptualising the artist’s passionate incursions within art history; while it proposes Interior Scroll as a keystone for understanding Schneemann’s extensive multimedia outputs, by reading the performance and its reception in relation to the framework of écriture féminine, a popular notion in poststructuralist feminist philosophy at the time of the work’s production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)984-1006
Number of pages25
JournalArt History
Issue number5
Early online date28 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

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