“Carolee Schneemann: Within and Beyond The Premises” at the Henry Art Gallery

If you are nostalgic for the late ‘60s and the ‘70s, or, if you never experienced them and you want to see what its avant-garde art scene was like, then head over to the Henry for its current show of the quintessential Carolee Schneemann. Her work and that of others led to the heady days when Karen Finely smeared chocolate on herself and presented it as performance art then caused an outcry with her parody “Poo Poo and Pee Pee.” These were the days when artists were most interested in shocking their audiences, producing social commentary rather than memorable art.

Featured in this exhibit are videos, implements, paintings, works on paper, and constructions, almost all of it “courtesy of the artist.” Draw your own conclusions.

Schneemann contributed to body art, performance art and feminism. Here you’ll get to see “Meat Joy” a film in which raw chickens, sausages, and fish vie for attention with semi-nude blood-smeared human bodies. There’s also “Up To and Including Her Limits” featuring, and here let me quote, “the ecstatic-endurance spectacle of the artist’s nude body swinging from a harness as she draws.”

Schneemann’s work, and that of many of her contemporaries contributed mightily to the effort to free our society from the hang-ups and prudery of the past. For that we have to thank them, so this exhibit is of considerable historic interest. Besides, without them there’d be no “South Park.”

Through December 30 at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington Campus, 15th Ave. NE and NE 41st St., Seattle. (206 543-2280 or www.henryart.org)

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