Pinea Silva

Lost Meanings of the Christmas Tree

2012, 9:24 min, color, sound, HD video

Pinea Silva: Lost Meanings of the Christmas Tree, a performance-lecture by Carolee Schneemann, was first presented on December 15, 2011 as part of the 40th Anniversary Benefit at Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI). The live recording, which was edited by Schneemann at EAI, represents an audio-visual collage in which the images used in the artist's lecture intervene in the recording of the lecture itself.

In Pinea Silva, which takes its name from the Latin for "pine grove" (after a grove on Mount Berecynthus mentioned in Virgil's Aeneid as sacred to the Roman Mother Goddess Cybele), Schneemann posits a gendered interpretation of the Christmas tree as symbol. Pinea Silva begins when a tinsel-wielding Schneemann, crowned with a headdress of ornaments, mounts the podium to a recording of popular Christmas melodies "sung" by meowing cats. Aided by a PowerPoint presentation of images culled from the Internet, the artist analyzes traditional Christmas imagery with an eye toward the psycho-sexual. She interprets how the use of this imagery at Christmastime asserts a heteronormative culture in which female sexuality is suppressed, and posits the reversal or re-writing of traditional symbols in which the Christmas tree is understood as vulvic.

Deploying humor in her delivery, slides and props, Schneemann uses the performance-lecture as a distinctive forum for questioning the relationships of gender, sexuality, power and culture.

December 15, 2011. Electronic Arts Intermix 40th Anniversary Benefit. Text and Image: Carolee Schneemann. Christmas Cats Songs: Jan Harrison. Camera: Stephanie Szerlip. Editing: Carolee Schneemann and Trevor Shimizu, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI).


This work is HD video and must be shown with a 16:9, HD display.
High-Definition Video Guide