Russian Artist Dimitri Tsykalov’s incredible Meat series is equally frightening and beautiful. Creating weapons, body armor, and other accessories of war and violence out of raw flesh, Tsykalov’s powerful photos put death front and center.
For Meat Tsykalov used over 150 kilos of fresh meat. He had to work rapidly because the meat had to be as fresh as possible in order to have optimal colour and texture. He sculpted his “meat weapons” at night and decorated his models with them in the morning.
The concept: ‘It is flesh holding meat to shoot flesh’. He brings rifles to life using dead meat, wielded by a human being, live flesh, that will, eventually, die, too. The idea of transience and mortality, that was already present in Skulls, is continued here. Tsykalov made Meat in the aftermath of the war in Iraq, but the series is not a reaction to that war as such. It is a reflection on man’s violence in general, devoid of melodrama and with a sense of humour. But it is not the humour that will strike the spectator most. The life-size prints of naked people holding ‘meat weapons’ make an aggressive first impression. It is only after a while that the poetry, aestheticism and even eroticism become visible. The photos are frontal and highly stylized, even though they may look raw: the clair-obscur lighting, the colour nuances and the texture of the meat and skin, a drop of blood slowly meandering down the body … the images make a lifelike impression, almost as if we can touch the bodies. Still, the uncanny feeling they arouse, is in the mind of the beholder, rather than in the images themselves. -Tamara Berghmans