THOMAS J. LAX: In 1962, Carolee Schneemann began her performances at Judson Dance Theater.
CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN: I thought of Meat Joy as an erotic ritual for my starved culture, with the body extended into raw fish and chickens and sausages and layers of paper and plastic and paint. I wanted things to really break at the edges and to merge and be wet where they had been dry and on top of each other where they had been separated.
The culture was starved in terms of sensuousness because sensuality was always confused with pornography. The old patriarchal morality of proper behavior and improper behavior had no threshold for the pleasures of physical contact that were not explicitly about sex but related to something more ancient—the worship of nature, worship of the body, a pleasure in sensuousness.
It was performed in the center of the church and of course, the incredible aroma never left of the raw mackerel the old chickens and the old sausages. Howard Moody accepted that and did his sermons in regard to the smells, sermons on the loaves and the fishes. It was wonderful.