Meat Tray 2021
Digital image of temporary installation (26 x 36 x 5cm) of lamb’s liver, parsley, cotton, plastic doll hands on refrigerator shelf.
The ecological crises confronting the world today are supported by a way of viewing the material substance of the world as infinitely exploitable, rather than having an agency and value of its own. I am interested in exploring ways in which we might sense the world differently, in ways that do not support mindless exploitation. My creative practice research methodology uses creative writing and crochet to imaginatively reach into these worlds. I have created a character called “Liv”, a human liver, in both literary prose and in three dimensional crocheted objects. Liv’s job description includes 500 tasks, ranging from creating proteins for blood plasma, metabolising alcohol and converting excess glucose into glycogen. I see her as having many hands, a little like the Hindu goddess Kali. In my temporary installation Meat Tray, I invoke the meat trays often raffled in RSL clubs. But while those meat trays are all about inert lumps of meat, the liver on my tray is shown hard at work, with many hands creating crocheted chains from single strands of fibre. The cotton yarn has soaked up blood from the liver, giving it the pinkish brown colours of butcher’s mince. Giving “mere” meat creative agency, with hands creating “string figures”, is a play on themes found in feminist scholar Donna Haraway (https://www.dukeupress.edu/staying-with-the-trouble), who celebrates a world of dynamic, creative, entangled material without intrinsic hierarchy that can generate new possibilities in every moment. At the same time, the cold interior of the refrigerator, with its clinical blue light, suggests a morgue. In this way I’m drawing out the tension between the liveliness of matter and our culture’s conception of it as dead and inert. My intention is to remind the viewer that hidden worlds such as those within our own abdominal cavities, in the cracks between rocks or in the recesses of coral reefs, are lively places requiring our attention and respect.
Tracy Sorensen is a novelist, journalist, craftivist and film maker. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Arts and Education at Charles Sturt University. She was the 2020 writer-in-residence at the Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney University.
Provenance: Peer reviewed submission