Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics – Barbican Art Gallery

Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics (8 September – 8 January 2023) is the first major survey of Carolee Schneemann’s work in the UK, tracing her feminist practice over six decades, including sculptural assemblages, multi-media performances and rarely seen archival material.

The exhibition design references her performances, using full height stage flats tinted with an atmospheric orange gradient, together with coloured vitrines and curved plinths.


  • Use: Exhibition
  • Status: Completed
  • Borough: City of London
  • Status: Completed
  • Date: 
  • Size:
    • Film/AV works: 13
    • Sculptural objects: 22
    • Painting: 41
    • Works on paper (including archival, drawings, collage, photography and books): 205
    • Performance photos (aluminium-backed): 153


  • Client: Barbican Art Gallery
  • Curator: Lotte Johnson
  • Assistant Curator: Chris Bayley
  • Exhibition organiser: Hannah Woods
  • 2D Design: A Practice for Everyday Life
  • Construction: Central
  • Image credits: Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics, installation view, Barbican Art Gallery, 2022
    © 2022 Carolee Schneemann Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London. Photo: Marcus J Leith

“The show is near-perfect”

Luke Ben, Evening Standard


The exhibition is an extensive chronological display of Carolee Schneemann’s work, including film/AV works, sculptural objects, painting, works on paper and performance photos.

The design references stage flats: full height fabric walls, tinted with an orange gradient, demarcate sections of the show, whilst creating transparency between the zones.

The orange gradient of the fabric walls, a colour found in her paintings, sculptural and film works, connects the upper (orange) and lower (white) galleries, and brings a warmth and performative quality to the experience of the show. A series of curved plinths recall bodily forms and select vitrines were painted bright orange internally to foreground certain exhibits, and punctuate the visitor experience.

The lightweight, immaterial exhibition design contrasts with the heavy masculine architecture of the Barbican and the lofty fabric walls makes full use of the double height gallery spaces.

The use of fabric for the large scale interventions has high visual impact but very small material and environmental cost 21 vitrines/shelves, some of which were upcycled from the Barbican’s previous exhibitions, are made of timber and are designed for storage to be reused in future exhibitions.

Oblique Axonometric of Gallery

Chromelodeon (4th Concretion), 1962
Chromelodeon (4th Concretion), 1962
Chromelodeon (4th Concretion), 1963
Aria Duetto Pin Wheel, 1957
Colorado House, 1962
Meat Joy, 1964