The singular American artist Carolee Schneemann is perhaps best known for her expressive paintings, installations, films, and videos from the past five decades and their unwavering focus on identity, subjectivity, and sexuality. Born in 1939 in Fox Chase, Pennsylvania, she received her B.A. from Bard College and an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois. After moving to New York in 1961 with James Tenney, who was then a composer-in-residence at Bell Telephone Labs in New Jersey, Schneemann was introduced (via composers Philip Corner and Malcolm Goldstein) to the cofounders of the Judson Dance Theater. In the mid-1960s she produced some of her earliest performances with the group at Judson Church, including Newspaper Event, 1962; Lateral Splay, 1963; Chromelodeon, 1963; and Meat Joy, 1964, and played as Manet’s Olympia in Robert Morris’s Site, 1964.

As part of artforum.com’s interview series to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the first concerts at Judson, Schneemann here discusses her “love affair” with her collaborators and “the startling erotic ritual” that was Meat Joy.


Carolee Schneemann interviewed at her home in upstate New York on June 13, 2012.

To accompany her interview, Schneemann provided the following performance sketches from her personal archives.

— As told to Lauren O’Neill-Butler