Hey, Chicky!!!

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

Collection: Early Video Art, Single Titles

Tags: Body, Feminism, Gender, Performance, Video History

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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.