In 1975, experimental film and performance artist Carolee Schneemann performed the first iteration of Interior Scroll at “Women Here and Now” in East Hampton, New York. It was an iconic moment in Feminist art that prioritized interior knowledge from the female body rather than the formal and conceptual processes male contemporaries referred to as objective. A second performance at the 1977 Telluride Film Festival in Colorado was by invitation. Schneemann was vexed upon discovering that the program was titled “The Erotic Woman,” as the title compartmentalized her and other women’s work.
In both performances she painted the contours of her body and assumed poses of a model during a nude drawing session. The culmination of the performance involved Schneemann taking a scroll from her vagina and reading it to the crowd. As she pulls the scroll from the inside of her body, she pulls knowledge that comes from within her and from women’s bodies and experiences more broadly. This work equates knowledge and knowing to a female body; a body that has historically been denied autonomy within the arts just as it has been deployed as a model, allegory, advertisement, and object.