“A Lunatic of the Sacred”: The Life and Work of Charlotte Moorman
Nicole L. Woods is an Assistant Professor of modern and contemporary art and a Gender Studies Concurrent Faculty at the University of Notre Dame . In fall 2017 she holds the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Visiting Senior Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art. She is currently completing the first scholarly monograph on the Fluxus artist Alison Knowles.
“A lunatic of the sacred.” “A magician.” “A proto-feminist.” “The artist who brought women into performance.” These portrayals, offered by the artists Carolee Schneemann and Alison Knowles at a roundtable event honoring the life and work of Charlotte Moorman, the Juilliard-trained cellist, performance artist, and festival organizer of the post–World War II avant-garde, announce the particular—and yes, even astonishing—influence of Moorman's practice in the 1960s and beyond. They also obliquely address the complicated ways in which we remember and reevaluate women artists in retrospective. In terms of historical reception, the clever, indeterminate nature of Moorman's oeuvre has often suffered a double exclusion: first, because of the probing, elusive, and durational character of the work; second, due to Moorman's marginalized relation to her male peers and collaborators who have received significantly greater recognition for their experimental efforts. An urgent corrective to this delayed reception came in the form of a sprawling exhibition of Moorman's diverse activities as a musician, performer, and curator, presented at venues in Illinois, New York, and Austria.
More of the publication in Art Journal, vol. 76, nos. 3-4 (Fall-Winter 2017):