Up to and Including Her Limits

Carolee Schneemann

Fox Chase, Pennsylvania, USA, 1939 - 2019
  • Date: 
  • Dimensions: 
    Variable dimensions
  • Edition/serial number: 
    Unique work
  • Media description: 
    Two-channel video (Betacam Digital and DVD; colour, sound), six TV monitors, three drawings, a harness, a rope and a projection without film
  • Category: 
    Installation, Video, Performance
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

The work of Carolee Schneemann, an artist whose first performances were within Fluxus, quickly evolved towards a feminist counter-discourse revolving around the ways in which art is represented. She was also part of the Judson Dance Theater circle, collaborating with different artists such as Robert Morris in works that brought together her interests in dance and the building of gender identity. The constant use of her naked body as her field of action, often with clear references to physical or erotic pleasure, lead some to initially consider her work essentialist, and was even viewed by some critics as mere exhibitionism. However, a contemporary reading indicates a clear challenge to established linguistic codes, with clear references to Antonin Artuad, whose writing about The Theatre and its Double she was already familiar with early on in her career.
The installation Up to and Including Her Limits (1971-1976) has its origin in the performance Tracking (1973), executed by the artist in an abandoned rail car, using the same method of drawing on a piece of paper placed on the floor while hanging from a rope and harness. The current version shows the artist herself in action, on a group of video monitors, since for Schneemann the body in movement is central to this work. The drawings that make up the setting are only a by-product and represent the image left behind by the performance, as opposed to the paintings resulting from Action Painting, considered to be independent works of art. The installation is thus a critique of Abstract Expressionism, a pictorial movement associated with the male spirit and, to that end, she uses the nude female body as an active instrument inseparable from her condition as an artist and with which she also challenges the dominant structures of visual desire.

Lola Hinojosa