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Mark performed 'Cocks, Hearts and Bloodlines' at the Elevator Gallery, Hackney Wick, London as part of WHIPPIT. 26-27th April 2008

Cocks, Hearts and Bloodlines is a performance/lecture conceived in 2008 that investigates the links between social puritanism, violence as spectacle and representations of the narcissistic male ego projected onto animals.
Traditionally, most demons are represented in myth, ritual, sculpture and architecture in either real or chimerical form. Society strictly prohibits our common acts shared with animals such as defecation and mating which are conducted privately and regarded as obscene. Conversely, in sport, animals are held in high regard, as champions and heroes, legends and celebrities. What lies behind the contradictory human fascination with our animal other?

‘In the instance of cockfighting, man and beast, good and evil, ego and id, the creative power of aroused masculinity and the wild and destructive power of animality are juxtaposed and inverted in a gory exhibition of cruelty and death’. Animals employed in sport transcend status - from noble beasts to base objects, from intimacy to estrangement. As gamblers stake their money on them, the animals enter a restricted economy in which profit and loss are the markers of their success. What do these acts reveal about culture and humanity?

The cockfight, alongside other cruel sports provides a metasocial commentary on the matter of classifying human beings into hierarchical structures and then organizing collective existence around that classification. Its purpose is mimetic; it is a reading of human experience; ‘a truth we tell ourselves about ourselves’.

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(c) Mark Greenwood 2oo8