On Friday 3 April we were planning to host a performance of mother-rights by the fantastic Hermine Demoriane as part of The Muddy Clearing. Instead we are uploading a full-length video of ‘The Knives Beside the Plates’ (1983) – a play written by Hermine and featuring the Neo Naturists amongst others – along with audio recordings of talks by Camilla Power and Professor Chris Knight, which accompanied the screening of this film back in February
Hermine Demoriane and Christine Binnie have been working together since 1983. Their first project together was a play ‘The Knives Beside The Plates’, subtitled S.G.H.B.B.K.H.H. ( She Gave Her Body But Kept Her Head ) written by Hermine and cast by Christine from the Neo-Naturist Cabaret. Their work covers anthropology, the French revolution, remains of Paganism in the Baltic States and other feminist topics from the 80s Blitz era onwards.
‘The Knives Beside the Plates’ was presented at Notre Dame Hall on Leicester Square. Taking the format of a reprised version of The Thousand and One Nights. The play sees Sheherazade avoiding being executed and turning King Sharyar (her would-be murderer) into a harmless eunuch, through staging initiation rituals out of ‘Symbolic Wounds’ by Bruno Bettelheim (1958).
As an introduction to the screening Prof. Chris Knight (founding member of the Radical Anthropology Group and author of ‘Blood Relations: Menstruation and the origins of culture’) debunks the idea that Patriarchy is natural to the human species, through the ancient stories common to many aboriginal and tribal cultures, which mythologise matriarchy as being the original source of all spiritual power, and rituals which seek to seize and mimic female power.
The screening was followed by a talk by Camilla Power (member of the Radical Anthropology Group and has lectured on the evolution of human symbolic culture, language, art and ritual). Powers talk ‘The first art’ discusses how the first art was body art and the first body art was menstrual, exploring the evidence of a social and sexual revolution in Africa as we became modern humans 300,000 years ago.
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‘The Knives Beside the Plates’ features performances by Christine Binnie as Sheherazade and Jennifer Binnie as her sister Dinarzade & Dencil as the King. With the NEO-NATURIST CABARET, Pandu Red, Wendy Wattage, Richie Riley, Richard Logan, Stevie Stewart, David Holah, Mi Mi Tin, Seph. & Centre Péguy’s Theatre & Dance Workshops. Music by People in Control. Sets & Costumes by the cast, also Andrew Logan & Anne Bean. Lighting by Yann and Photography by Rick Rayner-Canham
The Knives Beside the Places + She Gave Her Body But Kept Her Head [S.G.H.B.B.K.H.H]
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Hermine Demoriane is a singer, playwright, actress and performance artist.
Hermine is president of the non-profit organisation Ateliers d’artistes de Sacy, based in the Château de Sacy, in Sacy-le-Petit, l’Oise. The organisation organises artists’ residencies by British and French artists and hosts exhibitions.
She is also secretary of the Blondin Memorial Trust, dedicated to the memory of the tightrope walker Blondin.
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Christine Binnie and the Neo-Naturists Cabaret
Binnie’s practice includes ceramics and sculpture that are subverted with contradictory words and images. She has produced ceramic works as documents of Neo Naturist activities.
The Neo Naturists is a performance based live art practice started during the early 1980s in London, UK by Christine Binnie, Jennifer Binnie, and Wilma Johnson. The Neo Naturists subtextually, used their own female bodies in the context of the, often gay and exquisitely dandyesque, club scene, such as The Blitz, to play with feminist sexuality issues and sexual politics. As living, naked paintings they performed ancient and modern rituals, everyday actions and rituals on stages lit like kitchens. They juxtaposed ritual action with ‘common sense’ to create messy exuberant happenings
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Chris Knight is a founding member of the Radical Anthropology Group and author of ‘Blood Relations: Menstruation and the origins of culture’. His research interests include the structural analysis of myths and fairy tales, the evolutionary emergence of language and early human kinship. In his most recent book, ‘Decoding Chomsky: Science and revolutionary politics’, Knight approaches the mentalist doctrines which have prevailed over much of US intellectual life since World War II as an anthropologist might analyze the belief system of an indigenous tribe. In his activist role, Knight has written on the Liverpool dockers’ dispute of 1995-1998 and, more recently (with Camilla Power), on the strange experience of being arrested by the police for attempted street theatre. He is currently writing a book on the evolutionary emergence of language.
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Camilla Power belongs to the Radical Anthropology Group and has lectured for many years at the University of East London on the evolution of human symbolic culture, language, art and ritual. Taught by African hunter-gatherers, she has published on topics including women’s ritual, rock art, red ochre, Neanderthal symbolism, tricksters, naked protest, cosmetics, grandmothers, communal childcare, menstrual synchrony and lunar cosmology. She is currently writingThe Revolutionary Sex.
The first art – The first art was body art and the first body art was menstrual. This talk explores the evidence of a social and sexual revolution in Africa as we became modern humans about 200,000 years ago. How did that revolution work and what does it mean for Homo sapiens today?