Eloina is battering two pieces of raw steak with a meat tenderiser. They are labia stand-ins, previously hanging from her vulva beneath a bush of coriander pubic hair. In between these strikes, she smooths each steak out tenderly. There’s a juxtaposition of love and hatred here.
High Steaks treads the line between clowning, performance art and lecture. Eloina artfully balances absurdist comedy with sombre testimonies detailing how people feel about their labia. These audios act as the soundtrack to Haines’ bodily reckoning-celebration. As she chops the steak into neat strips, voices echo, discussing the ways partners have insulted their labia, medical professionals have pronounced them ‘too big’; Haines even admits that when she was ten, she wanted to chop hers off.
Most labia holders will emphasise with what they hear, but as Haines prepares a coriander-garlic-pepper accompaniment, it becomes clear that this is a celebration of togetherness. As the steak sizzles and spits, the stories become joyous, loving affirmations of vulvas, vaginas, labia and clitorises.
By baring it all, Haines isn’t presenting herself as a sexual object or even a biological commodity; she is just a person with a labia who doesn’t have to feel shame. High Steaks is a show about self-love, a touch of self-cannibalism, and ultimately self-acceptance.