Iconic America artist Carolee Schneemann appearing at the Edinburgh Art Festival 2012

The List / Talitha Kotzé

Carolee Schneemann, the iconic American visual artist, known for her discourses on the body, gender, sexual expression and liberation, is exhibiting at Summerhall during the Edinburgh Festival. Her seminal works, ‘Meat Joy’ (1964), ‘Fuses’ (1967) and ‘Interior Scroll’ (1975) have firm places in art history books.

Schneemann is thrilled to be working back in the UK where in times past she had experienced unexpected inspiration and historic affinity. ‘Because Paul Robertson, curator at Summerhall, has had a dedicated interest in ephemera and prints, I conceived of a huge collage activating an architectural aspect of this unknown space.’ Once the other video installations – including ‘Infinity Kisses’ (2008) wherein Schneemann exchanges kisses with her cat – are in place, she will be on site preparing the large collage from test prints from a re-edition of ‘Eye Body’ (1963), tearing them up and staining them with paint to create a new work from that archival material.

Another new work, never seen before, is a photographic series of the artist ice-skating naked in London while holding her cat Kitch (smuggled in from the US). Schneemann is known for allowing her cats to feature in her work. She reminisces: ‘There is definitely a seasonal mystery to ice skating in the South Kensington flat where I lived with Anthony McCall. After three years in London, I was missing my northern seasons back in New York state, the pleasure of winter sports and I considered the useless ice skates I had brought with me. The sequence was photographed by Anthony in one day.’

Schneemann acknowledges that there are a great number of Scottish artists who have been and are significant to her thinking. She once mentioned that there must be a cosmic need for more artists in the world, or that making art may just be a distraction. ‘My advice to younger artists: give yourself permission.’

Carolee Schneemann, Summerhall, 560 1590, 2 Aug–27 Sep, free.