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Fierce Films by Carolee Schneemann
Thursday, October 16, 7PM
Aurora Members Free (with RSVP), Non-members $10

Mature Subject Matter for Adults Only

Aurora Picture Show presents an adult-only screening, "Fierce Films," showcasing the works of filmmaker and performance artist Carolee Schneemann on Thursday, October 16th at 7PM at 2442 Bartlett Street. Innovative, groundbreaking and confrontational, Carolee Schneemann is fierce in her creative expression through performance and filmmaking. Schneeman is known for her performance pieces during the 1960s when the artist utilized film to capture and preserve the energy, ecstasies and immediacy of her performances.

"Carolee Schneemann, a pioneer of performance art, was associated with both the Fluxus movement and the Judson Dance Theater. Schneemann works with film, sculptures and performances. Her art is visionary and transcends genre boundaries; it was thus initially met with little sympathy and much criticism by her predominantly male colleagues in the avant-garde art scene (the Fluxus movement soon excommunicated her) and feminist artists alike." (React Feminism)

In celebration of her groundbreaking career, Aurora will showcase a selection of her short films selected by film aficionados Marian Luntz (MFAH Films),  Mary Magsamen (Aurora Picture Show), Michael Sicinski (University of Houston School of Art), Nancy Zastudil (A+C Texas Magazine) and Elizabeth Gregory (University of Houston Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program).  Focusing on Schneemann's physical and painterly approach to filmmaking as well as her feline affection, these films give a glimpse into the artist's career that has spanned over 50 years.  

In addition to the screening, Aurora will honor Carolee Schneemann with the Aurora Award on October 23 with the artist in attendance.  For more information and to purchase tickets for the screening or the gala event, please visit  Please note that "Fierce Films" has mature content and is intended for adults only.  Special thanks to Saint Arnold Brewery, Arts + Culture Texas and CultureMap for their support of this program.

The following works are included in "Fierce Films":

FUSES, 1965, (selected by Michael Sicinski)
Schneemann's experimental film "Fuses" from 1964-1967 is considered to be the first feminist erotic film.  FUSES is a self-shot 16mm film that explicitly showed her lovemaking with then partner, composer James Tenney; observed by the cat, Kitch. A silent film, Schneemann painstakingly collaged and painted sequences, "aiming to capture the equitable, erotic splendour of everyday sex 'with shameless regard.' This was at a time when movies couldn't show pubic hair or even say the word "vagina". Schneemann had to get the footage developed in a secret lab usually used for pornographic films. Although it was far too risqué for wide exhibition, it did win a prize at Cannes in 1969." (The Guardian)

Of the iconic piece, Schneemann writes, "...I wanted to see if the experience of what I saw would have any correspondence to what I felt-- the intimacy of the lovemaking... And I wanted to put into that materiality of film the energies of the body, so that the film itself dissolves and recombines and is transparent and dense-- as one feels during lovemaking... It is different from any pornographic work that you've ever seen-- that's why people are still looking at it! And there's no objectification or fetishization of the woman."

MEAT JOY, 1964, (selected by Marian Luntz)
Considered her most famous work, "Meat Joy," is a documentation of a performance that took place in 1964 in which four men and four women in their underwear roll on the floor in chaotic embraces whilst biting at raw chicken, wildly writhing over sausages, raw fish and paper scraps on a sheet of transparent plastic.

Writes Schneemann: "Meat Joy is an erotic rite - excessive, indulgent, a celebration of flesh as material: raw fish, chicken, sausages, wet paint, transparent plastic, ropes, brushes, paper scrap. Its propulsion is towards the ecstatic - shifting and turning among tenderness, wildness, precision, abandon; qualities that could at any moment be sensual, comic, joyous, repellent. Physical equivalences are enacted as a psychic imagistic stream, in which the layered elements mesh and gain intensity by the energy complement of the audience. The original performances became notorious and introduced a vision of the 'sacred erotic.' This video was converted from original film footage of three 1964 performances of Meat Joy at its first staged performance at the Festival de la Libre Expression, Paris, Dennison Hall, London, and Judson Church, New York City."

INTERIOR SCROLL, 1975, (selected by Elizabeth Gregory)
"Interior Scroll" is a solo work from 1975 that documents her performance of the same name.  Standing naked on a table, painted with mud, Schneemann slowly extracts a paper scroll from her vagina while reading from it. Confronting the artist's experiences of sexism and exclusion in the art world, the scroll's text is part poem, part manifesto and reflects her experiences with male colleagues in the art scene. Performed in East Hampton,NY and at the Telluride Film Festival, Colorado.

"I thought of the vagina in many ways-- physically, conceptually: as a sculptural form, an architectural referent, the sources of sacred knowledge, ecstasy, birth passage, transformation. I saw the vagina as a translucent chamber of which the serpent was an outward model: enlivened by it's passage from the visible to the invisible, a spiraled coil ringed with the shape of desire and generative mysteries, attributes of both female and male sexual power. This source of interior knowledge would be symbolized as the primary index unifying spirit and flesh in Goddess worship."

CARL RUGGLES CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST, 1963, (selected by Nancy Zastudil)
In her earliest film, Schneemann presents an abstracted portrait of the American composer Carl Ruggles, known for his irascible personality and finely-crafted atonal music. Ruggles is seen enjoying pie a la mode and ruminating on subjects ranging from Christmas to his incomplete opera The Sunken Bell. The hand-painted film stock heightens the impressionistic vitality of this snapshot of the 84-year-old composer, who is heard paraphrasing Freud: "Everything that you do is a matter of sex. That is the great passion of life."

VIET FLAKES, 1965, (selected by Mary Magsamen)
"Viet Flakes" was composed from an obsessive collection of Vietnam atrocity images, compiled over five years, from foreign magazines and newspapers. Schneemann uses the 8mm camera to "travel" within the photographs, producing a volatile animation. Broken rhythms and visual fractures are heightened by a sound collage by James Tenney, which features Vietnamese religious chants and secular songs, fragments of Bach, and '60s pop hits. "One of the most effective indictments of the Vietnam War ever made." (Border Crossings) Her rage at the atrocities in Viet Nam is still powerful and pertinent. 

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