In 2006, Jenny McMaster and Karina Bergmans created The Cake Show, a performance inspired by the visual similarities between women’s clothing and pastry decoration as well as the communal importance of sharing a cake. The Cake Show delved into the subjects of both festivity and feminism through wearable cake dresses donned by the artists. A decade of independent practice later Jenny and Karina now collaborate on a new performance entitled Meat/Meet an event which broaches the controversial topic of the place of meat consumption in our society.
The development of Meat/Meet as a performance has involved several stages including the creation of several wearable meat-like sculptures using a variety of techniques such hand and machine sewing, serging, embroidery, felting and stuffing. The cuts of meat and meat based repast range from choice and fancy such as t-bone steak and filet mignon, to mid range food stuffs such as ribs, short ribs and and rump roast to tasty items of questionable substance, such as sausage and bacon.
Meat /Meet's original germ of inspiration was drawn from the traditional ceremonial division of meat in Indo-European societies. The sharing of an animal helped forge communal bonds while it simultaneously forged a class structure. Patterns of unequal distribution can be found in texts ranging from the Vedas of Ancient India to the Greek Hymn to Hermes, to the Feast of Tara in described in the Ulster Cycle. The apportionment of the microcosm of an animal's body articulated the macrocosm of societal structures. When a community sat down to share a meal, the choices cuts of meat were given to members of the ruling class while the entrails were made into sausages and given to peripheral members of society.
In the twentieth century not that much had changed in the economics of meat consumption, porter-house and t-bone steak were still primarily available to the well to do, while people on a tight budget had to be satisfied with ground beef and hot dogs. The role of carving the roast or manning the bbq still held an important prestige. Today, however, with the recognition of the ethical importance of buying from local small scale farms, things are shifting. We understand that with the prominence of factory farming the place of meat in our diet comes at the cost of the quality of life of animals as well the depletion of soil and forest. Nevertheless as with most goods we consume there is a price attached to respecting the moral implications of the connection between product and source. Ethically sourced meats are more expensive even if they are low meats composed of intestines. While vegetarianism is a popular option it requires a certain amount of time and education.
During the performance onlookers are confronted by un-cut versions of the creatures which serve the primary source of read meat in North American society namely a cow and pig. Diners are required to meet the meat. The animals in question slowly dismantle themselves going from living wholes to constituent parts. The power position of the distribution of cuts is taken on by the animals themselves.