Deep Trash: The Animal Farm organised by CUNTemporary | 24 October 2015
If you have ever wondered in a modern art museum, “What is going on inside those artists’ heads?” this event would have definitely given you some answers.
I look back on the surreal experience I had that night, and I have to keep telling myself that it was not a dream…or a nightmare. A nightmare can be eye-opening for sure. You get a massive shock just because it is your first time. Who could have imagined that I would end up seeing a fully naked man dancing on the stage?
One step inside the Benthal Green Working Men’s Club, I felt like I stepped into a backstage of a circus. People with four breasts, horse heads, unicorn horns, people with their bottom showing, people with colourful frizzy hair that takes up more than their body – my eyes were confused as to what to look at. I certainly did not know whether it was fine to say, “Oh, that’s a lovely outfit!” because I wasn’t sure if it was meant to look lovely or scary. Then you hear a happy scream from the corridor, because a person won a butt plug at a hook-a-duck game… no, a “Hooker-duck” game – an interactive artwork aimed to raise awareness of prostitution laws.
The event was comprised of seven art performances, five video screenings, artworks, and dancing. It was an event based on the theme of Orwell’s Animal Farm, opening up conversations on gender and animal rights.
First, let me talk about my favourite performance of the night by Vera Boitcova. Dressed up as a unicorn, she talks about her friends Whale, Unicorn, and a mixed breed of Whale and Unicorn. What they all have in common is that they were socially ostracised because of their gender status. Based on a saying in Russia: “Lesbians are like Unicorns – they don’t exist”, the performance tells experience of being categorised as socially unfit. Screening a video clip of a protest on her body was effective and both visually calming and powerful.
For the rest of the performances, I don’t know which one was most unique:
1) the Cat Lady, the artist herself, being in love with cats and allergic to cats at the same time, starting acting as a cat and starts munching on cat food
2) a massive egg with legs, singing on the stage, that later becomes a chicken
3) an almost completely naked woman eating a roast chicken hanging from her body and spitting on her arm to make a sticker tattoo work
4) a pig headed man with a little cloth just to cover his privates, dancing while pouring ketchup and mayonnaise and smudging his entire body – at least, he was giving sausages out to people before he got completely naked!
I also enjoyed the artworks, especially some of the photographs and paintings. But more than that, I had fun seeing the variety of responses by the audience. Some were absolutely loving them all and seemed like they were enjoying being part of everything; some were absolutely confused at what they were seeing. Among the latter was a family dad who happened to find out about the event after he entered the circus. Although he seemed to be disturbed at what he was seeing, we were all bursting into laughter at the surreal night.
This strange dream can be a once in a lifetime experience, but it was one worth experiencing.
*Featured/thumbnail image: Gareth Chambers performing “Dick/Glitter Pig: the Dance of Love”; Thomas Hensher © 2015, courtesy of Cuntemporary