OPERATION is a performance which touches upon consumerism, the artist’s cultural background, and her personal encounter with surgery. In this piece, the artist procurs a whole rotisserie chicken (from Kroger’s), sets it on a baking tray meant to vaguely resemble a dissection tray, and proceeds to skin, shred, and debone the chicken with her bare hands.
NOVEMBER 1, 2012
For my first foray into performance art, I deboned and shredded a whole rotisserie chicken in front of my Time Studio Class.
This is what happened with my performance:
I began by shrugging off my tweed coat and blazer
I unbuttoned the buttons on the cuffs of my shirt; goddamn it’s hard to take buttons apart when your hands are trembling…
I rolled up my sleeves with one simple motion
I took the lid off the chicken
I took the chicken out of the container and placed it on a baking try which resembled a dissection tray
I took the bindings off the chicken
I tore off the drumsticks first; then the wings
I wrenched breast area from the rest of the body
I began shredding the breasts
I arranged the meat (drumsticks, wings, shreds and all) in as orderly of a manner as I could manage
I said, “Enjoy” and left the table/scene.
And then the majority of the class flocked to the table and ate the chicken.
I really was not expecting so many people, or anybody at all (aside from Chris and Ameorry) to eat the chicken. I didn’t even intend for people to actually come up to the table and just take the chicken from the tray—I’d brought paper plates and forks for people to use because I thought they didn’t want to get their hands dirty, but I guess nobody really had qualms about that…
Some people described my performance and demeanor as “meditative.” Others described it as uncomfortable. One person said she felt like the chicken was in pain. Some described the way I went about it and the whole performance/process as “clinical,” something like a surgery, which is one of the things I was going for. My professor likened it to the way a sociopath might act (something which amuses and thrills me). She also described my performance as simple—very “minimalist,” which made me happy because that’s my style.
I had no problems keeping a straight face during my performance. Somehow, when I stepped up to the table, all my initial tremors were gone and I just felt intensely focused/concentrated. I went about it in an unfeeling, dispassionate manner.
I wonder if my peers and professor psychoanalyzed me. They surely must have. If I were them, I would have, for sure. I also keep wondering if this performance and my relatively successful execution of it is reflective/has any bearing on my psyche/subconsciousness. Despite feeling uncomfortable about the notion and action of taking a chicken apart (especially when it comes to wrenching the limb from the body and the breast/ribcage from the rest of the body), I was still able to do it in the detached manner I originally intended.
I don’t think I’m as insane as the persona I channeled in my performance—or at least I hope I’m not.
I dressed in this particular way for the following reasons: a) I like minimalism and also wanted to keep the focus on the action and not me b) the ouftift was is an homage to Alison Knowles' "Make A Salad" peformance crossed with Yoko Ono's "Cut Piece" performance. They're two influential performance artists we learned about in Time Studio.