Samantha Sweeting
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Bestilalia (I never imagined life without you)
2008
Performance installation, 2 days
The Graduates, Battersea Art Centre, London.
Donkey head made by Nichola Kate Butland.
Camera by Samantha Sweeting and Claire Leona Apps.



Bestilalia (I never imagined life without you) is a tender exploration into cross-species metamorphosis and breastfeeding, which works with the erotic as a meeting place for love and loss. It takes the shape of a performance installation, incorporating sound, image, text and objects alongside live task-based activity.

The female body is experienced as a site for performance and a generator of broken narratives that seek to interrogate representations of femininity and sexual difference. My body conjoins with animal bodies bringing about a tender interchangeability between human and animal, informed by myth, fairytale, religious iconography and natural history museum. Beauty and Beast coincide, and the transformation into animal form is experienced as a movement towards ‘nature’ and a process of becoming-feral.

Like Cleopatra who bathed in asses’ milk to retain her beauty, I sit in a bath of sorrow, wearing my Donkeyskin disguise to pluck a dead pheasant. I am a storyteller, weaving together fact and fiction in a delicately macabre form of child’s play, using the animal as a vehicle through which to speak of intimate melancholy and erotic tenderness. It protects me and I nurture it in return. I am a Mater Dolorosa weeping tears of milk, inviting the viewer to eat and drink from my bestial body.


Read extended Bestilalia statement.



     <performance installation