Carolee Schneemann, Meat Joy, 1964-2010
Carolee Schneemann
Meat Joy

In the 1960s, Carolee Schneemann (*1939 †2019, USA), a pioneer of performance art, was associated with both the Fluxus movement and the Judson Dance Theater. Schneemann worked with film, sculptures and performances. Her art was visionary and transcends genre boundaries; it was thus initially met with little sympathy and much criticism from her predominantly male colleagues in the avant-garde art scene (the Fluxus movement soon excommunicated her) and feminist artists alike. Schneemann’s experimental film "Fuses" from 1964-1967 is considered to be the first feminist erotic film. In protest against the Vietnam War, she developed more interactive forms of performances, which her audience could directly influence. The central themes of Schneemann’s work were gender roles, sexuality, war, memory and death.

Meat Joy is an erotic rite – excessive, indulgent, a celebration of flesh as material: raw fish, chicken, sausages, wet paint, transparent plastic, ropes, brushes, paper scrap. Its propulsion is towards the ecstatic – shifting and turning among tenderness, wildness, precision, abandon; qualities that could at any moment be sensual, comic, joyous, repellent. Physical equivalences are enacted as a psychic imagistic stream,in which the layered elements mesh and gain intensity by the energy complement of the audience. [...] This video was converted from original film footage of three 1964 performances of Meat Joy at its first staged performance at the Festival de la Libre Expression, Paris, Dennison Hall, London, and Judson Church, New York City.” (Carolee Schneemann)

Copyright VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2012
Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

Document media
16mm film, colour, sound, 10:35 min

Issue date

Laura Cottingham (COT 1)
Performance Saga (PER 1)
Sands Murray-Wassink (MURR 1)

collectivity, flesh, fluxus, happening, pleasure, touch