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I Say I Am: Program 1

Desire and the Home: Program 1

Challenging the dominant ways of making and critiquing art, feminist art practice in the 1970s stressed personal connections to materials and immediacy of context over formal abstraction.

For many women, the home was a natural subject of artistic production as a highly charged site of rampantly contradictory meanings. As Lucy Lippard noted, "[women artists] work from such [household] imagery because it’s there, because it’s what they know best, because they can’t escape it." In Desire and the Home: Program 1, the artists explore domestic issues such as motherhood, sexuality, death, familial relationships, control of physical space and the preparation and consumption of food.

Please note that on this compilation "Chicken on Foot" is a 1:00 excerpt.

# Title Artists Run Time Year Country
1 Learn Where the Meat Comes From Suzanne Lacy 00:14:20 1976 United States
2 Hey, Chicky!!! Nina Sobell 00:09:55 1978 United States

Learn Where the Meat Comes From

Suzanne Lacy
1976 | 00:14:20 | United States | English | Color | Mono | 4:3 | Video


A classic feminist video, Learn Where the Meat Comes From depicts how “gourmet carnivore tastes take on a cannibalistic edge. This parody of a Julia Child cooking lesson collapses the roles of consumer and consumed: Lacy instructs us in the proper butcher’s terms for cuts of meat by pointing them out on her body. As the lesson progresses she becomes more and more animal-like, growling and baring over-sized incisors. Perhaps, in her role as a gourmet cook, she is herself as much consumed as consumer.”

—Micki McGee, Unacceptable Appetites, exhibition catalog (New York: Artists Space, 1988)

This title is also available on I Say I Am: Program 1.

Hey, Chicky!!!

Nina Sobell
1978 | 00:09:55 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | Video


In this cooking demonstration/performance, Sobell wears a chicken carcass over her face while dressing (literally, in baby clothes) a chicken to be cooked for dinner. Cooing and breast feeding the chicken as she would an infant, Sobell brings two stereotypical female roles—that of care giver and that of cook—psychotically close, emphasizing the potential dark side of women’s intimate association with food in a way similar to Suzanne Lacy’s Learn Where the Meat Comes From.

“In her performance art video Hey, Chicky!!! Nina Sobell appears nude ‘playing’ with a raw cooking chicken. With a few simple manipulations, she eradicates the cultural distance between mother and woman as sexual being. … Playing on the symbolic connection between food and sex, cooking is transformed into sexuality, but the involvement of the dead chicken pushes that sexuality towards bestiality and necrophilia. The scene is further complicated when the same chicken is given the role of baby. Sobell plays with the chicken, rocking it, holding it up by its arms as if teaching it to walk, and swinging it from breast to breast in what can only be described as a milking dance. This collapsing of the baby role with the chicken’s already established roles of dead animal, food material, and sexual object violates other taboos, including infanticide, cannibalism, and pedophilia.

—Chris Straayer, Deviant Eyes, Deviant Bodies: Sexual Re-orientations in Film and Video (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996)

This title is also available on I Say I Am: Program 1.