It’s 8 o’clock on a cold winter night, few months ago, and I am about to meet for the first time two performance artists who will make quite a surprising Internet breakthrough. Following sequels of gross, harsh and sometimes uncontrolled expression, their recent performance “Meat Slap” has hit the 259k notch on Vimeo and became recently more than an internet “sensation”. Lately hosted on American channel Comedy Central during the program Tosh.O, the footage appeared as farcical.
In fact, the viral “Meat Slap”, a video on which a woman sits through 56’’ of being repeatedly slapped by a contraption flinging 7 ounce raw rib-eye on her bare breast is none-other but the work of infamous artist duo Andie Macario (the woman) and Victor Ivanov (the man behind the machine), two, to be watched, newly appointed artists to the London scene.
I would meet Ivanov and Macario publicly on the edge of March 2013 during the second fold (you can read all about the first Black Metal Chicken on Art blog Bad at Sports) of a completely deranged artistic performance called Black Metal Chicken, created by Henrik Heinonen. Sat in a cold, dark, disused pub we watch Chainsaw Massacre on Super 8 slashed by interruption; a tall bearded Finnish hands out a strange liquor with coffee beans and lemon peel whilst reading spell casting incantations in Spanish; Henrik Heinonen performs a noise poem on how to use a chainsaw and finally Macario, barely dressed will stroke, lick and slap her inner thighs with a chewed piece of meat. No sound, the performance is as raw as the rib-eye, but wait. A long haired hipster appears into the enactment with a gas cooker and sears the torn meat only for it to be eaten again. By then the shock factor had reached its maximum amplitude.
Strikingly sourcing out of Feminism, exhibitionism, duality Female/Male and food as an ecstatic and sublime interaction: Macario’s Prime Beef would punch right out such a staggering “we woman: sexualised object” that I hazily remember the end of the show. Where Choke Me Baby (see Bad At Sports post or continue reading, ed) was entertaining (to some extent) it didn’t feel as much aligned and targeted as Carnal Instincts.
From now on and whatever brought the duo together, I know and still believe that something will kick out: they are extravagant, care free and undeniable clever clogs – here is an interview of Ivanov on the Meat Slap.
“Originally,” Ivanov starts “I was interested in creating “Meat Slap” after I saw Andie perform her piece Carnal Instincts at Black Metal Chicken 2. I wanted to create a mechanism which would repeat this action in a monotonous manner but also consistently. I experimented with this and made Meat Slap the 1st edition where it just slapped my face. I liked it but I felt like something was missing.
“My interest was mainly the usage of meat, which resonated with my practice, and the sexualisation of it. Carnal Instincts was so much of a perverted act, basically performing sexual acts on a piece of meat but not really doing so. When we eat we perform acts which, when placed in the right context, could be seen as sexual, but with Carnal Instincts it was illustrated so bluntly that there was no other way of seeing it.
“The viral thing had obviously made this piece very dear to me and Andie Macario. It’s such a rarity when an artwork receives such attention and spurs so many uninhibited opinions (Reddit). I loved all the comments.
“At the same time there is always that escape route; the sexual element was so strong, maybe too strong for me. I thought simplifying the act and separating the different elements would make it stronger. In Prime Beef Andie’s engagement with the meat made the piece very intimate something I wanted to break down. By making the touch of the meat slap repetitive and farcical whilst still being sexual, it placed the work in this really weird space. A confused state. This is a really good place for an artwork to be, I feel.
“When you look at it, you don’t know how to react. The narrative is the complete lack of narrative. It’s a place where you are forced to try and understand. The point for me is that it infiltrated the social sphere in a very invasive way and is now independent of me and Andie. It’s the same as when we forced people to experience art at Black Metal Chicken and, in some rare cases, people joined in.
“When Andie performed her piece at BMC3 in front of the windows so that the city boys would be able to see, that was another way of injecting the artwork into the social sphere and much more invasive because these people didn’t chose to come into the show, they were just having their beers. The point I am making is that people on the internet are also just browsing, and even though they chose to click on that link, the content of it something that is outside of their understanding (mostly) and that is why the reaction was of such a confused nature, I love that. It has really sweetened all the efforts which we are trying to make with Black Metal Chicken as with regards to social ‘intervention’.”
Black Metal Chicken has been going on for three different events, each one madder than the previous…