I have been working with lamb for the last two years. Butchering the entire carcass nude, after laying next to it, holding it and wrapping my body around it. Twice, I made my way to a field to enact the gesture for a camera. Twice, I performed the gesture live indoors for a performance Festival. The first iteration of the work took place in a wild prairie in Glenn Ellyn, Illinois -an hour or two away from Chicago.
I laid the lamb out by the entrance to the prairie, on a white tarp between butchering knives, a saw and a silver bucket filled with salt. The sun coated in clouds, I leaned my body into the meat, attempting to the best of my abilities, precise incisions. In committing to butcher the animal without guidance, I need to engage with the body as if it were my own, or that of my dog. The familiarity of the organs allows me to delimitate where to make the cuts The living body heating itself up while sawing at the bones. The laborious task took a little more than half an hour, legs, ribs and neck were sectioned apart, smaller pieces cured in the salt. Occasionally I rinsed my knife out with water. I shivered.
When we finished filming, Michael, one of his friends and I, gathered the meat in the kitchen. They kept the larger pieces to freeze, made jerky with the unrecognizable parts, and gathered the scraps to feed the pigs. Together, with vegetables from the garden, we made a large pot of stew. If i was initially making the work thinking of trauma, identity and self preservation, the lamb was now its own landscape, which, combined to the prairie opened up a multiplicity of narratives well beyond its obvious symbols and the ones I had inscribed on it. In fact the lamb, was very much a lamb: a young sheep, a multitude of meals and an active imprint onto our ecology. For every kneeling in the wilderness, a kneeling in the boundaries between a smooth and striated land. For every performative butchering: an initial gathering, a collective ingestion of the meat - and from there a few more from which I gather only fragments and photographs, a continuation of encounters, discussions and reunions.
Eye of The Rib exists in multiple iteration, first a 30 minute video, then a live durational performance involving text and sound. It is through this cummulative work that I have begun my investigation into trauma, resilience and divinity. The slow durational gesture is accompanied by sound recordings, and poetic fragments, and followed by a collective feasting of the animal.
This work has been presented live in 2017, at Godberd (Montreal) as well as as part of Tempting Failure: Biennial of Performance and Noise in Croydon, London (UK).
01. L’Amour Désarmé
02. Letters from a young Epona
03. Eye of the Apple
04. Eye of the Rib
05. Saint Dymphna
06. 50 Pomegranates for Persephone