From March to November 1976, Carolee Schneemann was in the process of leaving her partner, artist Anthony McCall, and starting up a new romance with editor Bruce McPherson. Never one to shy away from incorporating life into artwork, Schneemann began documenting her shifting relationships with the two men in a journal and on scraps on paper at her desk. She wrote down snippets of her conversations with McCall and McPherson; advice she received from friends; and notes about her dreams. She collected photographs, too, of everyday life during that period: friends gathered for a party; dishes in the sink; one of her lovers naked in bed. Eventually Schneemann typed up all of her notes onto 156 notecards colour-coded by source and reproduced the photographs as slides. These materials were used in three performances called ABC–We Print Anything–In the Cards, where she shuffled and read the stack of cards and projected the photographs in the background. She reproduced the notecards and images as an artist book under the same title in 1977.
The slogan ABC–We Print Anything appears in a shirt Schneemann wears in one of the pictures. She’d come across the shirt by chance in a printer’s shop window, where it was advertising the business using mismatched letters leftover from different jobs. She asked to buy it immediately, recognizing a hidden meaning in the letters for her purposes: ‘A’ for Anthony McCall, ‘B’ for Bruce McPherson, and ‘C’ for Carolee Schneemann. The provocation, ‘we print anything,’ was a fitting description of how the intimate details of their relations would become material for her art.
ABC–We Print Anything is a faithful replica of Schneemann’s shirt from 1976 and is produced in collaboration with Carolee Schneemann and the Artist’s Institute, New York.