ABC- We Print Anything in the Cards
Carolee Schneemann, 1977, 58'27''

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This performance, recorded at De Appel, is completely different from what would be expected from Schneeman. Schneeman herself describes her performance as a ‘lecture with images’. She is sitting up straight, almost formally, in front of a white screen. Her contours are sharply defined against the canvas hanging behind her, due to a bright lamp that is shining on her. She is dispassionately reading out texts that are written on small cards. Blue cards contain conversations between characters a, b, c and d. Fragments from dreams and diaries are written on yellow cards, while red cards contain comments from friends and artists about each other. The differently coloured cards are being read in random order. (However, the video is in black-and-white, so that th colours of the cards remain a secret). Slides are being projected on two screens behind Schneeman; on the left, slides of the texts being read, so that the audience can read along, and in the middle, private, unposed photos of Schneeman and her friends.
Despite the fact that both text and images often convey an intimate tale, the performer Schneeman remains aloof from her own story. She presents it as clinical and detached as if she were reading the ABC. The strength of this performance lies in the constructed scenario form that Schneeman has chosen. Both visually and textually, she takes her story apart to investigate the relationship that comes about between text and image. The text is recorded in, or rather, translated into, a scenario, so that in fact persons come across more as characters. Her monotonous presentation reinforces this detachment, and makes the intimate photos and texts almost implausible. The authenticity of language and images is put to a severe test.
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  • Date: 1977
  • Length: 58'27''
  • Type: Video
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA
  • Genre: performance (artwork genre)
  • Keywords: artist, everyday life, personal history