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Beyond the HappeningPerformance art and the politics of communication$
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Catherine Spencer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526144454

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526144461

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Carolee Schneemann’s Group Work

Carolee Schneemann’s Group Work

(p.133) 3 Carolee Schneemann’s Group Work
Beyond the Happening

Catherine Spencer

Manchester University Press

Carolee Schneemann played a vital role in the development of performance art beyond the early Happenings, formulating what she termed ‘Kinetic Theatre’, which concentrated on the dynamics of group collaboration and sensitisation. Schneemann conducted a sustained investigation of psychosocial interrelation, attempting to transform her Happenings into living, fluid image structures that could facilitate physical and mental communion between participants. Chapter 3 demonstrates how this was elaborated in dialectical relation to contemporaneous sociological, anthropological and psychological studies of communication. This was particularly evident in Schneemann’s 1967 Happening at the Roundhouse in London during the Dialectics of Liberation Congress. While focusing on this event, the chapter roots Schneemann’s vision in her earliest collective actions such as Labyrinth (1960), and concludes by proposing that, although Schneemann stopped making group work in 1970, her critical engagement with sociology and psychology would become an important element of US and UK art practice allied with women’s liberation.

Keywords:   antipsychiatry, collaboration, counterculture, cybernetics, feminism, Kinetic Theatre, psychotherapy, women’s liberation movement

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