Leg of Lamb was lucky enough to catch a screening of Carolee Schneemann’s ‘Meat Joy’ (above) at the IMA in Brisbane last week. A performance piece first conducted in 1964 in Paris and re-staged in New York, ‘Meat Joy’ is an orgiastic ritual involving eight performers and an array of meats. Clad in furry undies, the participants writhe around with a selection of fish, poultry, red meat – and some paint for good measure. Schneemann described the piece as ‘an erotic rite – excessive, indulgent, a celebration of flesh as material’. In fact, it’s an interesting foil to the contemporaneous flesh and blood-based Dionysiac rituals of the Viennese Actionists like Hermann Nitsch. While the Actionists were out to shock, and no doubt Schneemann was too, ‘Meat Joy’ is ultimately an oddly playful affair, amplified by its cutesy 1960s pop soundtrack.
(Australian audiences might have seen a small screen version of ‘Meat Joy’ as part of the 2008 Biennale of Sydney. The IMA is projecting it large scale with surround sound, so if you can, check it out in all its full screen glory).
Carolee Schneemann’s Meat Joy at the IMA, 420 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane until November 24.