Soul-and-mind-inseparable-from-body underpins all of my work and that phrase recurs throughout my writing. Matter responds to how we treat it, to the ways in which we think about it, care for it (or not), and are conscious about it (or not). People tend to think of the body as profane and the soul as spiritual, yet the phrase soul-and-mind-inseparable-from-body indicates that the sacred and the sexual are unified. A person's genuine awareness of soul-and-mind-inseparable-from-body entails what I call dreaming the world into being, which is a process not only of personal transformation but also of social transformation. Dreaming in this way is activist.
Pleasure matters, and it informs all of my work. Pleasure not as some kind of simplistic fun or amusement and not as an escapist counterpoint to the world's abundant horrors, but rather as a movement away from the unhappiness that people too often live with as their unconsciously accepted lot in life. That pleasure produces well-being is an idea and a feeling of utmost importance in my work. Pleasure can be an everpresent movement towards happiness. Pleasure produces love and love produces pleasure. This is a process of embrace and expansion, of opening the heart. Pleasure transmutes self-loathing and mourning, which so readily constrict human beings' hearts and their entire bodies, into the opening that is love.
I create, write, direct, and perform my own pieces. They are intimate and embracing, and they engage the mind, the heart, and the spirit. Rich, graphic, and lyrical language spoken by my resonant voice characterizes the work. I interweave research and personal experience, scholarship and poetry, and I often sing, sometimes my own lyrics. I frequently revel in rich, delicious food, such as digging into a huge chocolate cake with a fork and then my fingers. The visual aspect of my performances is simultaneously spare and voluptuous. The staging is minimalist–music stand, a pedestal that holds a glass of water and perhaps a cake, sometimes a vase of flowers. My costumes are elegant, simple, and conventionally sexy. These days I see each piece as a kind of contemplative prayer shared by the performer and audience.
My photos are primarily self-portraits, often nudes or myself in performance costumes. The work partakes of high art, erotica, and family photos. I am an art historian who is fascinated by the classical Greek female nude and whose Ph.D. studies concentrated on glamour girls in 19th-century art and literature, especially those of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a painter and poet who was a rock star of his time. Some of my photos appropriate ancient Aphrodites and some honor and personalize pictures by Rossetti. My self-imaging enters into my reputation for being a trailblazer, as the photo work began in my forties and presents a woman who dreams herself into the being of glamour and sensuality. My posing or modeling is a kind of performing. Most of the photos have been shot in collaboration with other artists, three in particular: Russell Dudley (my second husband), Jill O'Bryan, and Frances Murray.
I use video in two different ways to document my performances: as a pretty straight record of me with an audience and as an art piece shot in a studio or another private environment and edited for aesthetic and conceptual effect.
Because I speak and sing my own texts, audio lends itself to my work. Audio pieces range from live recordings of performances with many songs in the 1980s to a studio recording in 2009 of the text only from Sexual Advances. In live performance, Sexual Advances includes spontaneous interludes with the audience.
Download my resume (243k PDF) for details of all the book, performance, and exhibition projects.
|2013||A Short Story about a Big Healing|
|2011||The Glamour of Being Real|
|2008||Clairvoyance (For Those In the Desert): Performance Pieces, 1979-2004|
|2006||Swooning Beauty: A Memoir of Pleasure|
|2001||Monster/Beauty: Building the Body of Love|
|2000||Picturing the Modern Amazon (co-editor and contributor)|
|1994||New Feminist Criticism: Art, Identity, Action (co-editor and contributor)|
|1989||Hannah Wilke: A Retrospective|
|1988||Feminist Art Criticism: An Anthology (co-editor and contributor)|
|1982||BRUMAS: A Rock Star's Passage to a Life Re-Vamped|
The date given is for the debut performance. Some performances I present only once, others I present several times.
|2013||A Short Story about a Big Healing|
|2012||The Glamour of Being Real|
|2010||I AM Desire|
|2008||A Flowering of Vision|
|2007||Goddess of Roses|
|Shaking Out the Dead|
|The Sphinx Unwinds Her Own Sweet Self|
|2005||Beauty Loves Company|
|2003||Epiphany without End|
|The Performance of Pink|
|The Sake of Angels|
|To Carolee: In Apologia; Give Something to Someone|
|Voyaging to Cythera|
|2002||The Aesthetics of Orgasm|
|2001||Bloodred Beauty: A Meditation on Mel Gibson's Midlife Allure|
|2000||The Amorous Stepmother|
|The Passionate Wife, the Passionate Daughter|
|Giving a Fuck|
|The Real Nude|
|1996||Erotic Faculties (Red)|
|Erotic Faculties (White)|
|Midlife Bodybuilding as Aesthetic Discipline|
|Monster/Beauty: Midlife Bodybuilding as Aesthetic Discipline|
|Pleasure and Pedagogy: The Professor's Body|
|1994||Egon Schiele's Monster/Beauty|
|Polymorphous Perversities: Female Pleasures and the Postmenopausal Artist|
|Language of Love|
|Silver Tongues Untie the (K)-n-o-t-s|
|Visible Difference: Women Artists and Aging|
|1991||Faculties of Love|
|The Language of War and the Language of Miracles|
|Rhetoric as Canon|
|Holocaust of Hearts or I Believe|
|1988||Has the Body Lost Its Mind?|
|1987||Words of Love|
|Clairvoyance (For Those In The Desert)|
|1986||A Few Erotic Faculties|
|Poses of Power: The Female Artist as Hero(ine)|
|There Is a Myth|
|1980||Shadows in the Dark Chamber|
|1979||The Concupiscent Critic|
|2008||Joanna in the Desert, selected photos|
|2005||Joanna Frueh: A Retrospective|
|The Scholar's Touch, large scale projection|
A Short Story about a Big Healing—How do you heal yourself? By healing the heart, declares Joanna Frueh in this inspiring and beneficent book about a 10-year odyssey of her own healing between 2002 and 2012.
The Glamour of Being Real—deals with the art of self-creation, of trusting oneself. Passionate and insightful, and sometimes paradoxical, this helpful guide expresses simple means for overcoming bodily and everyday dilemmas..
Sexual Advances praises men and love. The foundation of the performance is a long, spoken poem in which I interweave the everyday, such as images of a lover of mine cooking and references to his family and home, with both the romantic and the divine.
Using roses as symbols of both spiritual and carnal love, as they have been since ancient times, I explore passion, pleasure, humanity, and divinity by speaking as Goddess of Roses, a deity from my imagination.