Carrie Schneider, Revenge Body @Candice Madey

JTF (just the facts): A total of 7 photographic works, generally framed in white and unmatted, and hung against white walls in the main gallery space and the entry area.

The following works are included in the show:

  • 6 chromogenic photographs made in camera, 2022, ranging in size from roughly 51×44 to 57×44 inches, unique
  • 1 chromogenic photograph made in camera, 2022, 225 feet by 20 inches, unique

(Installation shots below.)

Comments/Context: Carrie Schneider’s new works are rooted in an impulse toward obsessive self observation, the kind where the repetitive looking never quite coalesces, ultimately leading to a breakdown of recognizability. As though peering into a cracked mirror, she builds up allusive representations of herself (or someone more abstracted), her layered constructions filled with faces that dissolve into expressively dripping disarray.

An initial encounter with Schneider’s bold works, with their seething colors, watery washes, and torn edges, inevitably pushes toward questions of process. How is she making these brash image objects? Schneider has been crafting these kinds of chromogenic works for nearly a decade, with each new project leveraging an even larger custom built large format camera to enable the expansion of her visual experiments; her previous series Deep Like (from 2020-2021) employed a camera that could hold 24×30 inch rolls of paper, and her new works are now even larger, nearly twice the width in some cases. Inside the camera, Schneider layers and overlaps images using multiple exposures, her taped alignments fully visible in the final prints; then in the darkroom, chemical washes and drips (in multiple physical directions) add to the feeling of chance gesture and image dissolution, the colors wandering from intensely dense and thick flared masses to softer fogs and splattery textured mists.

Schneider’s new works all revolve around coincidental namesakes of the artist, in this case “Carrie” (in the form of a blood-soaked Sissy Spacek from the 1976 Brian De Palma horror film of the same name) and “Schneider” (in the form of the Austrian actress Romy Schneider, as seen in a close up from the 1974 film “The Most Important Thing: Love”). The two faces, as indirect reflections of the artist, provide the starting point for all of the works in this show, with the familiar likenesses then iteratively broken down and reinterpreted by the artist’s various interventions.

The works that feature “Carrie” have an emotional tone of raw, almost uncontrolled aggressiveness, the wide-eyed, gore-covered face of Spacek surrounded by emphatic brushstroke movements or inverted into a hollow replica lost in merging patterns. The largest work on view turns Carrie into an extended ribbon of jittering repetitions, the paper tumbling from the ceiling in three billowed waterfalls of imagery; as the starkly blood-dripped face comes in and out of view, it feels like a mask being tried on again and again, like the artist losing herself in that hypnotically creepy face.

The “Schneider” works seem more steeped in the whorls of feminine fantasy and desire, the seductive visage returning to haunt the artist. In different works, the actress’ face is consistently washed out and hollow, the contrasts of light and dark expanded into a ghosty presence, which the artist then interrupts with a range of techniques. In “You Again”, the image seems to unravel and dissolve into something impermanent, while in “Choose Well”, the approach is more additive, with imagery layered on top of the face and one eye blackened, the color palette descending into fiery orange. These approaches are then remixed in “Retired the Fantasy”, with blue striping laid across the primary portrait, the chemical drips falling both up and down with feelings of deliberate disruption and exhausted had enough cancellation.

Aesthetically, Schneider’s work connects back to the improvisational image transfer and reuse of Robert Rauschenberg, while her darkroom chemistries recall the look of some of Mariah Robertson’s recent abstractions. But the content and application here, in the form of the personally-linked imagery then pushed to extremes of disruption, feels unnervingly fresh. The press release for the show claims that the artist “finds comfort in killing the image”, and that turn of phrase seems strangely appropriate, as if her works have been conceived in a simmering psychological effort to destroy.

What gives many of these works their visceral charge is the sense of overtly tunneling inward toward identity, of trying on facets of glamour and hysteria and ultimately discarding them in the search for something else. In these new compositions, Schneider seems to take better control of the expressive activity than before, directing the impulse to deconstruct rather than letting it become too open ended. By starting with an identifiable target, her efforts to wrestle with and eventually undermine these particular images (and whatever they might represent) have become clearer, even at their most dazzlingly messy.

Collector’s POV: The works in the show are priced as follows. The single framed works are priced between $15000 and $16000, based on size, with the larger billowing installation is priced at $35000. Schneider’s work has little secondary market history at this point, so gallery retail likely remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.

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