Utterly Precarious

A multi-part engagement with the life and work of Carolee Schneemann, whose work has continually probed the precariousness of nature, art, and life


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Artistic legacies
  • Curatorial practice
  • Pedagogy

Organizing Institutions

Slought, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Contributing Institutions

Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, The Philadelphia Museum of Art


Aaron Levy, Jacqui Bowman


Jean-Michel Rabaté, Osvaldo Romberg


Department of English, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the Kaja Silverman/Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award at the University of Pennsylvania


Andreea Bailuc, Mimi Cheng, Blaine K. Baxter, Diedra Krieger, William Keller, Nicola Gentili, Karen Beckman, Holly Pittman, Erica Levin, Adelina Vlas, Christine Poggi, Laura Kuhn, and Brian Wallace

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


75% Formal - 25% Informal

Slought and The College of Physicians of Philadelphia are pleased to present Utterly Precarious: Carolee Schneemann in 5 Parts, beginning April 24, 2012 and continuing through May 2012. The project consists of a 5 part engagement with the artist Carolee Schneemann, whose work has profoundly shaped contemporary discourses on the body, sexuality, and gender since the 1960s. Probing the precariousness of nature, art, and life, Schneemann has continually foregrounded the relationship between the body of the artist and the social body. The project encompasses the following: an exhibition of her film works, a public conversation, a Master Class with students, a celebratory party for the artist's cat companions, and a museum tour.

Seminal films from the 1960s, at Slought. Acquisitions by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries and the Cinema Studies Program have enabled Slought to screen five works by Schneemann: Meat Joy (1964-2010); Fuses (1964-66), Water Light/Water Needle (1966), Body Collage (1967), and Viet-flakes (1965) will be on display April 26 through the end of May 2012.

Conversation (April 24, 2012, 6:30pm)
An evening lecture by Schneemann on the dais of historic Mitchell Hall at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, surrounded by paintings of the College's founding Fellows. After, Schneemann's conversants include Christine Poggi of the University of Pennsylvania and Aaron Levy of Slought Foundation.

Master class (April 25, 2012, 3:00pm)
The artist engages freshmen from the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania in a private, filmed discussion within the Mütter Museum, where her father took her as a child. The filmed discussion may be shown at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia once the editing is done!

Party (April 26, 2012, 6:30pm)
Cat celebration at Slought Foundation in honor of Carolee's major cat companions (Kitch, Cluny, Vesper and Minos). Your pet cat is invited to participate in a gathering with other cats within a sheltered environment of leaves and fish. Cats must RSVP to kitch@sloughtfoundation.org

Tour (April 27, 2012, noon)
Schneemann will lead young people who are unfamiliar with the many galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a tour. She will reflect on her first art classes there, which inspired her artistic proclivities. The DVD of the performance Up To and Including her Limits (1976) as edited by Schneemann is now part of the Museum's permanent collection and will be continuously screened to coincide with the artist's visit to Philadelphia.

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About the Seminar

In conjunction with Utterly Precarious, the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania offered "Art History in the Present: Carolee Schneemann and her Circle," a Spring 2012 Spiegel Contemporary Art Freshman Seminar.
The course is being taught by Aaron Levy and has developed in dialogue with Carolee Schneemann. The students are Jordyn Feingold, Emma Pfeiffer, Justin Reinsberg, Nicole Ripka, David Wilks, and Elliot Wolf.

About the Party

Cats (and cat owners) in attendance at the Cat party will include: Omar (Colleen Shuda and John Dubosky), Eddie (Monika Kuder), Twilo and Gobi (Diedra Krieger), Duck (Mimi Cheng), Mr. Sheffield (Kate Goodman), Rudy (Nikki Marx), Chloe (Amanda DeLeo), and Judith and Leopold (Jane Ianacone and Robin Donnelly).

Related publications

Artist Carolee Schneemann clarifies and deepens the inquiries of art history students about her life as an artist, surrounded by skeletons and emblems of precariousness.

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