Move: Schneeman’s Movement

By Jo Phillips

Water Light Water Needle
Water Light / Water Needle I, 1966 – 2014, acrylic paint on photo, 71 x 104 cm

Something in the way she moves moves the world. She is Carolee Schneeman – the American multidisciplinary artist whose performance art discourses on the body, sexuality and gender, instigating a movement. Often regarded as a feminist icon, Schneeman is active in the art world since the late ‘50s producing paintings, photographs, performance art and installations. She is outspoken, daring and pioneering. Her body of work often questions the public’s understanding of performance art, the body, politics of identity, and feminist ideology.

Water Light Water Needle
Water Light/Water Needle (Lake Mah Wah, NJ), 1966, 11:13 min, color, sound, 16 mm film on video, (film still)

This spring, the first solo exhibition of the American artist in London is currently hosted by Hales Gallery. It showcases Schneeman’s Water Light/Water Needle – a performance that explores the artist’s body in dynamic relationship with the social body. It was realised two times in 1966 – first in St. Mark’s Church, New York in March, then, in Havemayer Estate in MahWah, New Jersey in May. This is the first time the performance is exhibited since the ‘60s.

Hales Gallery
Water Light/Water Needle at Hales Gallery

On display at the exhibition is a film of the original performance footage edited by Schneeman herself, diagrams drawn to conceive the work, vintage photographs of the performances, as well as recent paintings made within the enlarged photographs.

Water Light/Water Needle is on now till 12 April 2014 at Hales Gallery, Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA.