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Fuses by Carolee Schneeman

"Fuses was made as an homage to a relationship of ten years…We are perceived through the eyes of our cat, through whom I was able to visualize our coupled images in the context of the rectangles and the seasons surrounding us." – Carolee Scheenman, notes held at the Study Collection, University of the Arts, London.

Carolee Schneeman's uncompromising film Fuses was the work of a pioneering performance artist who had established a profile with her Kinetic Theatre group and the Judson Dance Theatre in the mid-1960s. She had developed a type of performance which used 'anti-gravitational' devices to provoke risk and physical contact between the performers within space, such as in the controversial piece Meat Joy (1964).

Made over three years, Fuses was Schneeman's first film and contains an intimate record of her love-making with her long-time partner, the composer James Tenney. Scheenman intended the images of love-making to portray 'a core of spontaneous gesture and movement' . Influenced by her involvement in the films of Stan Brakhage, this silent film makes use of superimposition and montage to convey the channelling of erotic energies within a domestic environment - 'their bed as the life-source of the house they inhabit'.

The film won prizes at Cannes in 1968 and at the Yale Film Festival in 1972. The film became an 'underground' hit, striking a chord with audiences of that time.

Through the rest of the 1960s Schneeman continued to make films, often dealing with political issues, such as the anti-war films Viet-Flakes (1965) and Illinois Central (1968), and films which foregrounded sexuality as a theme.

Schneeman has come to be seen as a pioneer of feminist filmmaking and continues to produce work today as an artist in a number of media.

James Harding

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Carolee Schneeman, Fuses (1964-67)

Courtesy of the artist/Lux
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