Was Gaga unaware of Jana Sterbak’s 1987 sculpture Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorexic, or was she knowingly ripping it off/riffing on it? Either way, critics are calling her out on the similarities between her get-up and “Sterbak’s 50 pounds of raw flank steak, stitched together into a slowly rotting garment and displayed, to a sizable hue and cry, in a 1991 exhibition at Canada’s National Gallery.” Art scholars will recognize “vanitas” as a term for Dutch still lifes depicting detritus, paintings meant to remind their audiences of our fleshly mortality. Of course, considering the anorexia reference, Sterbak’s sculpture is also a comment on the sick, tiny models of the fashion world. Although Gaga’s frock certainly looked fresher (a detail we’re sure everyone in the VMA auditorium was grateful for), the similarities are damning.
Hats of Meat
The concept is simple: This is a website of photos of people wearing hats made out of meat. Our favorite is the strapping Jew wearing a brisket yalmuke. Although Gaga has yet to acknowledge Sterbak’s influence, she did supposedly call out Hats of Meat on the VMA red carpet.
As part of her Palindromic Project (2006), a series of “hybrid paintings ready-to-wear,” Ada Rajszys constructed this Meat Pattern. She calls the work “a humorous vision of our desire of consumption confronted with the image of daily beauty and our bodies” and wonders, “Are we wearing meat or are we becoming meat?” The 3D center of the flower/vagina/sleeve is an obvious riff on the subtly suggestive flower paintings of Georgia O’Keefe. [via Complex]
In 2008, artists picked up Schneemann’s Meat Joy thread with a show called Meat After Meat Joy . Among the bloody offerings was provocative sculptor Betty Hirst’s Hommage to a Meret Oppenheim — a copy of Oppenheim’s iconic 1936 Object , which was itself a comment on feminine domesticity and sexuality. The themes of meat, gender, and the body pervade much of Hirst’s other (largely NSFW) work.
America’s Next Top Model
Of course, you don’t have to go high art — or cycle back through history more than a few years — to find another possible source of inspiration for Gaga’s meat couture. A 2008 episode of ANTM features the whole gang of bright-eyed model wannabes in a slaughterhouse photo shoot, sporting beef briefs, with meat draped over their shoulders… plus some other clothing that we seriously hope they discarded once the cameras stopped rolling. While many of the artists above may have had lofty ideas about the relationship between women, meat, and the body, we’re fairly sure that Miss Tyra was primarily concerned with finding a challenge gross enough to occupy prime-time audiences and make models squirm. (In the clip above, the meat joy begins around the 3:30 mark.)