Saturday, April 17, 2010
"I mistrust intensely whatever you might call your "own life" because whatever it is, might already be colonized by principles and aesthetic ideals that society offers you. So my work has to do with cutting through the idealized (mostly male) mythology of the "abstracted self" or the "invented self" i.e., work involving another kind of glorification/falsification where you direct someone else to do an act you wouldn't do yourself... so you retain power and distancing over the situation. In my work in performance and film, nothing happens that I haven't first tried myself--usually with a lot of fear and uncertainty...
Performance, for me, developed from the place where I had to extend the principles of painting and construction into real time, out of a pressure of imagery, and didactic information that could only be vitalized in that way. Because the body, taking that energy into immediacy, has a value that static depiction won't carry, representation won't carry--it has to actually be in real time.
The dominance of the sex-negative imagination fuels itself on the denial of the body, its denigration, its split from nature--the whole construct as really a techo-metaphysics where the godhead is so strangely devitalized, his form itself is a crucified body that no longer speaks or acts or moves but is filled with genital suppression. You worship this dead genital figuration with its exclusionary propriety of being "male"... so that the authenticating source of vitality is a distanced male god, a Holy Ghost, a crucified phallus. And all the female attributes are completely distorted so you get this demented mythology where the god is born from a Virgin, or from a god's forehead or from an underarm... anything that can usurp the female primacy!
Not only do we have to live out this male schizophrenia culturally, but we have to live it out in our personal lives. First the truth is sacrificed, then you're next. It's a mess--it's sad and wasteful. And the patterns of male self-aggrandizement, low self esteem and castration fantasies fulfill themselves in endless adventures and penetrations--then denial of what they have built up with a partner that might become "coherent." They prefer the "heroics" of evasion.
We live in a culture of oblivion that perpetrates a kind of self-induced denial in which the meaning of the recent past is continually lost or distorted... much like feminist history was always lost or distorted. The cultural history each generation creates is immediately turned into waste: 'That's old shit!' Whereas, my work is addressing issues involving 3000 years of Western patriarchal imposition. So if I'm fighting with some younger artist about the past 15 years--I'm already suspicious: those are not the right stakes!"
--Carolee Schneemann, 1991