February 3, 2003
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass. - The Mead Art Museum will present Meat Joy, a screening of the 1964 performance piece by Carolee Schneemann, followed by a conversation with the artist and Kristine Stiles, professor of art at Duke University, on Monday, Feb. 17, at 4:30 p.m. in Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. This event, which takes place in conjunction with the Mead's exhibition, "Critical Mass: Happenings, Fluxus, Performance, Intermedia and Rutgers University, 1958-1972," will remain on view until June 1. The exhibition and screening are free and open to the public.

A pioneer of performance, installation and video art, Schneemann was one of the first artists to use her body to examine the relationship between actual experiences and the imagination, often addressing issues that are erotic, sacred or even taboo. Her experimental work of the 1960s prefigured the feminist movement, particularly its encouragement of sexual self-assertion for women. A prolific writer, Schneemann incorporates the thoughts from her journals, dream diaries and feminist essays into her paintings, assemblages and kinetic sculptures, ultimately producing an unexpected and visceral fusion of sensory encounters. Today Schneemann is world-renowned for her multidisciplinary work that has helped transform the definition of art while exploring subjects that relate to sexuality, gender and the body.

In 1964, Schneemann first staged Meat Joy at the Festival de la Libre Expression in Paris. This performance piece evolved from the artist's urge to explore the gap between the conscious and unconscious, the real and the conceptual. At the same time, Schneemann's Meat Joy investigates and demystifies the hedonistic concept of the primeval ritual with (in the artist's words) its "excessive, indulgent... celebration of flesh as material."

Kristine Stiles teaches and writes widely on topics of avant-garde and experimental art from her multi-faceted perspective as art historian, critical theorist, political activist, painter and performance artist. Stiles's work stems from the intersection of art, the body, memory and societal taboos. Her publications include Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings (co-edited with Peter Selz) and the forthcoming Uncorrupted Joy: Art Actions, History, and Social Value, as well as the essay "Anomaly, Sky, Sex, and Psi in Fluxus" in Critical Mass: Happenings, Fluxus, Performance, and Intermedia at Rutgers University 1958-1972, the catalogue of the current exhibition. A noted commentator on Schneemann's art and letters, she has just completed Correspondence Course: Selected Letters of Carolee Schneemann and Her Correspondents: An Epistolary History of Art and Culture. Stiles's performance piece "Western History as a Three Story Building" has been presented at Franklin Furnace, New York, and Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis.

For further information about the exhibition and related events, call the Mead Art Museum at 413/542-2235 or visit the Web site, http://www.amherst.edu/mead. The exhibition and special programs are free and open to the public.