AHIS G8836 Expanded Arts: Carolee Schneemann

B. Joseph

In 1966, Film Culture published a special issue entitled “Expanded Arts,” a category that comprised, according to the masthead: “Happenings, Neo-Baroque Theatre, Expanded Cinema, Kinesthetic Theatre, Acoustic Theatre, Neo-Haiku Theatre, Events, Readymades, Puzzles, Games, Gags, Jokes, etc.”  Included in the issue (designed as a fold-out newspaper insert by George Maciunas) was the transcript of a symposium on “Expanded Theatre” held at Lincoln Center, a compendium of Jonas Mekas’s “Movie Journal” film reviews on new, hybrid forms of cinema performances and installations, and Maciunas’s astounding and detailed graph of the emergence of this new field of art forms.  Although another issue was promised, the wider revolution of the arts into this more expansive territory was not to happen in the way this issue predicted, and the art forms involved eventually disappeared from a position at the vanguard of cultural developments.  In their wake, however, emerged more recognizable artistic categories such as conceptual art, body art, and performance.  In this course we will revisit and rethink this and related developments and movements from our current historical and theoretical perspective—focusing particularly on the work of Carolee Schneemann (who appears in Maciunas’ graph under “Happenings/Neo-Baroque Theatre”) as a significant case study.  This course will examine the stakes and questions concerned in this period and attempt to forge new historical and methodological tools by which to approach it.