new-york

Carolee Schneemann

Max Hutchinson Gallery

The air of frustration about Carolee Schneemann’s recent mixed media objects has to do with their subject matter—the war in Lebanon—but it expresses itself, in a kind of reflexive subtext, as a loss of esthetic faith. Instead of Robert Rauschenberg’s famous “gap” figure of speech, Schneemann would probably see art and life as weaving onward in mutual self-realization, woof and warp; yet this work seems to balk, to be as much about intermittent, relentless, disruptive return, as about flowing on. There’s a hitch.

Take War Mop, 1983, an image/machine of vaudevillian inevitability. Slowly one end of a motorized mop rises above a video monitor. Inch by inch it ascends, until, gravity sodden, it suddenly plops down on the set. With scenes of Lebanese devastation on the screen and small debris in front of it, this rigging is the kinetic equivalent of counting to ten and still losing your temper.

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 1983 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.