ABC - We Print Anything - In The Cards
Beuningen, Holland: Brummense Uitgeverij Van Luxe Werkjes, 1977
158 pp., [loose leaves], 112 x 30.5 x 5 cm., boxed
Edition of 151
A handmade blue cloth box, gold-stamped and tied with a ribbon. It contains 158 cards, which function both as an unstructured narrative bookwork, and as a performance score. The cards are colour-coded: the pink index cards contain comments and advice by friends; the yellow are diary and dream extracts; and the blue cards contain comments by A (Anthony, the artist's soon-to-be ex), B (the artist's new lover, Bruce) and C (the artist herself). The choice of format was intended to encourage an open-ended reading of the piece, in no particular order.
The accompanying imagery features domestic items (a kitchen sink, a wall clock, pets, a pair of shoes), nude photographs of the artist, and photographs of primitive sculpture, typically eroticized ("a monstrous male figure penetrating a female figure who stretches back over a rock" and "a female sculptural figure reaching behind her to the huge erect penis of a male figure", etc.).
The work was first performed at Franklin Furnace in New York, in November of 1976. The following year Schneemann presented the work in both Holland and Amsterdam. After this the artist became "dissatisfied with the static nature of the reading", preferring the random shuffled structure of the boxed work.
"Every dilemma of our life is in there, every contradiction. It was a wonderful piece to be able to create, because it came out of such chaos. My partner was leaving me and strange enough it seemed like I was falling in love with someone else. It was so confusing. So when people would talk on the phone they would give me advice…I would write that down and drop it in the drawer…Finally I looked in this drawer and I had all these notes piled up and thought maybe I could do something with this."
- Carolee Schneemann, 2001