Judson Dance Theater

Al Giese’s photograph of Stanley Gochenouer, Dorothea Rockburne, James Tenney (hands), Carolee Schneemann (from left) in _Meat Joy_, 1964. Performed at the concert _Meat Joy_, Judson Memorial Church, December 17, 1964. © Estate of Al Giese/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Courtesy of Carolee Schneemann, Galerie Lelong & Co., and P•P•O•W, New York

Carolee Schneemann. Meat Joy. 1964 289

Al Giese’s photograph of Stanley Gochenouer, Dorothea Rockburne, James Tenney (hands), Carolee Schneemann (from left) in Meat Joy, 1964. Performed at the concert Meat Joy, Judson Memorial Church, December 17, 1964. © Estate of Al Giese/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Courtesy of Carolee Schneemann, Galerie Lelong & Co., and P•P•O•W, New York

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.

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