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Carolee Schneemann

Meat Joy


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As a pioneering feminist artist Carolee Schneemann has earned renown over the past six decades for her work that critically investigates the relationship between the body of the artist and the social body. Meat Joy is a film based on footage from a series of performances that took place in 1964 at venues in Paris, London, and New York. One of Schneemann’s most iconic works, a half-century after its inception it still retains the power to startle audiences with its transgressive evocation of the sensual and carnal. In it men and women clad in feather-trimmed bikinis and briefs dances and writhes on plastic sheeting while rubbing raw fish, chicken, sausage, and wet paint onto their bodies. The live performances conveyed the character of an erotic rite, simultaneously ecstatic and repulsive, choreographed and spontaneous. The work also significantly built on Schneemann’s formative training as a painter, bringing the concept of gestural painting into a radically expanded field. In subsequent years Schneemann edited footage from films of the original performances, adding layers of music and a poetic voice-over to create this experimental visual montage that amplifies aspects of the performances while also linking back to the sensory impressions on which they were based. [Permanent collection label, 2017]

  • Artist Carolee Schneemann (American, 1939–2019)
  • Title Meat Joy
  • Date 1964–2010
  • Medium 16 mm color film with sound, transferred to DVD
  • Dimensions duration | 10:35min.
  • Credit line University purchase, Bixby Fund, 2016
  • Object number WU 2016.0009
  • Currently on View until July 22, 2024

Tragic Depictions: Negative Emotions in the Visual Arts
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/17/2024 - 07/22/2024

Purchased 7/28/2016; Received 10/3/2016
Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

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