PRINT May 2019



Judith Bernstein and Carolee Schneemann, New York, 2016. Photo: Pola Esther.

CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN WAS SUPER FAB! She made her mark early with her definitive performance pieces of the 1960s and ’70s. Her groundbreaking Interior Scroll detonated art history in 1975; it was first performed at the show “Women Here and Now” in East Hampton, New York. She asked Joan Semmel, who organized the exhibition together with Joyce Kozloff, if she knew which type of glue would work best with vaginal fluid. Joan did not have the answer!

Carolee’s work was undeniably outspoken and rageful. She gave birth to a literal and psychological scroll—it was a voice from within.

She was part of the feminist community. We hung out together at art openings and loft parties and went to bars to network. We were included in shows together because of the extremely confrontational and sexual content of our art.

Carolee Schneemann, Meat Joy, 1964. Performance view, Judson Memorial Church, New York, November 1964. Dorothea Rockburne and Carolee Schneemann. Photo: Al Giese.

At the end of the day, it was the nature of our work that truly connected us. We were both screaming to
be heard!

Carolee’s work was undeniably outspoken and rageful, screaming to be heard!

Three years ago, while I was in intensive care, Carolee kept in constant touch and sent flowers through my studio manager and friend, John Reynolds. I was completely isolated from the outside world, and I was deeply moved by her compassion, which came even as she was wrestling with her own medical issues.

Carolee’s art merited recognition throughout her career. And she got a lot before she died, which was a great gift. She received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2017 Venice Biennale, and her work was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and became the subject of a retrospective that traveled from the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Mönchsberg, Austria, to MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York.

Carolee Schneemann, Fuses, 1964–67, 16 mm, color, silent, 29 minutes 37 seconds.

Losing you was a great shock. Unfortunately, when death comes calling, you’re always home.

The art world will miss you, our community will miss you, and I will miss you.

You were a great presence! You go, Carolee. 

Judith Bernstein is an artist based in New York.