According to art historian Max Dvořák, a painting of a slaughtered pig by Joachim Beuckelaer, 1563, was the "first still life in the history of Western Art." Powerful due to its literalism, his assertion locates the origins of the still-life genre in the unflinching representation of an animal carcass. A few decades later, Annibale Carracci's painting, Butchershop (Bottega di Macellaio), 1582-3, implied surprising similarities between the artist's work and the butcher's craft, as the "butchers" depicted were Annibale and his two brothers, who were also noted painters. Since then, a long lineage of artists, including Francisco Goya, Eugène Delacroix, James Ward, Chaim Soutine, Marc Chagall, Francis Bacon, George Segal, Joseph Beuys, Carolee Schneeman, Jana Sterbak, and Damien Hirst, among others, have explored the visceral resonance of animal fat and flesh – sometimes as meat, sometimes as rotting substance – exploiting the subject's capacity to inspire repugnance and lust, thereby challenging the limits of art as a modern critical practice and the configuration of artworks as consumer fetishes.
For an upcoming theme issue of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, we invite scholarly articles that address the work of contemporary artists who focus on meat
and meat-related themes, as well as critical essays that address the philosophical and ethical questions raised by the appropriation of real flesh inside the gallery setting.
Potential paper topics include, but are not limited to:
Feminist critiques of meat as a sexualized substance
Decay, death, and the limits of literalism
The denigration of the senses and the disdain for smell
Sensuality, ecstasy, and carnality
Carne cruda: why is "meat" in art usually raw?
The aesthetics of meat: the "look" of (good, bad) flesh
Memento mori and ars moriendi
Meat and masculinity
Suspensions of disbelief: making meat, making art
Scheduled for 2010, this issue will be peer reviewed. Deadline for abstracts: 1 June 2009. Deadline for final revised papers: 1 December 2009. Queries and abstracts should be directed to the attention of Paula Lee, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and Giovanni Aloi, email@example.com.
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