This installation grew out of a live work of the same name that Schneemann performed nine times over three years. In that performance, the artist suspended herself from the ceiling in a tree surgeon’s harness, continually raising and lowering herself with trance-like movements as she produced a tangled web of marks on sheets of paper covering the walls and floor. The work was intended as a direct response to the masculine legacy of Abstract Expressionism—in particular, to Jackson Pollock’s “action painting”—as well as a rejection of the conventions of performance, such as a fixed audience, technical cues, and even conscious intention. Described by the artist as a solitary “movement meditation,” the work was also conceived as durational: each time it was presented, Schneemann performed continuously during all the hours the venue was open.
As Up to and Including Her Limits evolved, the artist wanted to capture and sustain the ephemeral work. This installation incorporates the harness and drawings from a performance at The Kitchen art space in New York in 1976, which are illuminated by a square of light emanating from a film projector, an element in several incarnations of the work. This glowing light and the performance documentation displayed on stacked video monitors stand in for the artist’s body, which is now absent from the work.
Publication excerpt from From MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019).