Editor's note: The following essays and associated materials was published February 2, 2016 in Resource Library with permission of the Haggerty Museum of Art. The essays were written to accompany the exhibit Carrie Schneider: Reading Women, on view January 21 - May 22, 2016 at the Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University. If you have questions or comments regarding the essays and associated materials, or wish to obtain a copy of the exhibition catalogue, please contact the Haggerty directly through either this phone number or web address:



 

Carrie Schneider: Reading Women

January 21 - May 22, 2016

For her series Reading Women (2012 - 2014), Brooklyn-based contemporary artist Carrie Schneider photographed and filmed one hundred female friends and colleagues in their homes or studios reading texts authored by women. The Haggerty will present, for the first time in a single exhibition, all three forms of the project -- a selection of large-scale film-based photographic portraits, a four-hour single channel video installation, and an artist book comprised of photographs of each book held open by its respective sitter. Explored via three distinct media platforms, Schneider's deceptively simple premise invites viewers to "read" each woman as she consumes the words on a page, a socially and culturally inflected activity that introduces a host of complex questions about the history of female representation and self-representation and spheres of intellectual influence among women.

Support for the exhibition and accompanying programs was provided by the Friends of the Haggerty Museum of Art, the Joan Pick Endowment Fund, the Marquette University Women's Council Endowment Fund, and the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Reading Women publication is a limited-edition, hybrid artist book and exhibition catalogue. It consists of 100 color photographs of each sitter's selected book held open by her hands, with a foreword by Haggerty Museum Director and Chief Curator, Susan Longhenry, and essays by artists Cauleen Smith and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, both sitters for the project. Major funding for the publication was provided by the Sadoff Family Foundation.

Carrie Schneider: Reading Women is on display at the Haggerty Museum of Art, from January 21 through May 22, 2016.

 

Exhibition catalogue foreword by Susan Longhenry, Director and Chief Curator, Haggerty Museum of Art

 
In an essay written for this publication, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung asserts that Carrie Schneider's work presents "a (silent) three-way conversation between authors, readers, and a photographer." I would argue that Schneider's work frames a four-way conversation, including the viewer as either a willing or unwilling participant. While most works of art imply a viewer, rarely does an artist so masterfully implicate those of us doing the looking. Our responses -- facilitated by the verisimilitude of photography -- are part of the work.
 
The power of Reading Women is that, while the subjects are depicted alone, the viewer inevitably occupies their space with them. We watch these readers -- contextualized by a culture that has long objectified women -- engaging in an act that is both intimate and intellectual. While the title of each portrait includes the chosen book, we are denied access to the book itself. Rather than read the book, we read the woman. She simultaneously excludes us from a meaningful activity and invites us to watch her perform it. Our participation is made more explicit in the video installation accompanying the portraits. We watch as the video unfolds, transitioning from one portrait to the next as the reading woman turns the page of her book.
 
The Haggerty Museum of Art's installation of Reading Women presents, for the first time in a single exhibition, all three forms of the project: a selection of large-scale film-based photographic portraits, a four-hour single-channel video installation, and an artist book comprised of photographs of each book held open by its reader. The experience of holding this book in our hands, while viewing images of women's hands holding open their books, perfectly completes our involvement with this powerful body of work.
 
There are many to thank for that experience, especially Carrie Schneider for sharing her remarkable work with the Haggerty Museum and its visitors. Emilia Layden, the Haggerty's associate curator, stimulated this project with her considerable vision and intellect. I'm grateful to the Sadoff Family Foundation for major funding for this publication, with additional support from Andreas Waldburg-Wolfegg.


Artist statement

Reading Women (2012-2014)
 
The history of representing women is fraught. My recently completed project Reading Women (2012-2014) arose from my own questions regarding the possibility of ethically representing a woman. Asking a friend to perform something intellectual, of her own volition, in her own self-defined space, was my starting point.
 
I asked 100 friends -- mostly artists, writers and musicians in living in New York -- to each sit while reading a book of her choice, written by a female author, in her own home or studio for two hours, while I photographed and filmed her. In a world obsessed with speed, the depth of concentration that can be experienced while reading feels almost radical, and this creates the moments I'm after: over time, the sitter becomes immersed, and she loses awareness of the camera and her pose.
 
Whether she borrowed her grandmother's first-edition, autographed Angela Davis' An Autobiography (1974), or read (for the eighth time) her dog-eared paperback of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927) -- the sitter, her choice of book and its author, become linked, and the title of each portrait reflects this genealogy. Cumulatively, the archive reveals a constellation of influences and knowledge among my creative peers.
 
- Carrie Schneider

Checklist for the exhibition

To view an illuistrated checklist for the exhibition please click here.
 

Essay by Molly Zuckerman-Hartung

To read Molly Zuckerman-Hartung's essay, please click here.
 

Essay by Cauleen Smith

To read Cauleen Smith's essay, please click here.


Resource Library editor's note

The Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and Cauleen Smith essays were published February 2, 2016 in Resource Library with permission of the Haggerty Museum of Art, granted to TFAO on February 2, 2016. The essays were written to accompany the exhibit Carrie Schneider: Reading Women, on view January 21 - May 22, 2016 at the Haggerty Museum of Art.

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Susan Longhenry, Director and Chief Curator, Haggerty Museum of Art, and Mary Dornfeld, Communications Assistant, Haggerty Museum of Art, for their help concerning publishing the essays.

 

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