Forty Years of Carolee Schneemann’s “Interior Scroll”
Posted by: Claire Komacek
The following is an excerpt from Quinn Moreland’s article that appeared on Hyperallergic
Forty years ago on August 29, 1975, the thirty-six-year-old artist Carolee Schneemann pulled a scroll from her vagina. The performance, titled “Interior Scroll,” is an essential moment in performance art history, and an important milestone in the artist’s provocative and influential oeuvre. For this important anniversary, I had the opportunity to speak with Schneemann, who lamented the way in which critical reception of “Interior Scroll” downplayed her earlier, yet intrinsically related works, stating: “I think it has to be subtracted from the awareness of all the work I have done since. It’s used against the work; it’s used against the complexity of my processes; it’s used to contain and stabilize a much richer and more complex body of work.”
Schneemann’s need to explore female sexuality came as a direct response to an apparent disconnect between women’s experiences of their bodies and historical and cultural representations. Schneemann writes in 1991’s “The Obscene Body/Politic”: “I didn’t want to pull a scroll out of my vagina and read it in public, but the culture’s terror of my making overt what it wished to suppress fueled the image; it was essential to demonstrate this lived action about ‘vulvic space’ against the abstraction of the female body and its loss of meaning.”
Moreland, Quinn, ‘Forty Years of Carolee Schneemann’s “Interior Scroll”,’ Hyperallergic, published August 29th, 2015, accessed September 4th, 2015, hyperallergic.com/232342/forty-years-of-carolee-schneemanns-interior-scroll/.