Eggs Piece for CRASH 1995

20 Apr 1995 : Artspace, Wooloomooloo, Sydney

A performance for the evening: CRASH ! PERFORMANCE ART EVENT


1/. The interesting thing about art-making is that everything is used up in generating the product. It becomes an alchemical process, where the base materials used are transformed and elevated.

The egg is unavoidably a symbol. It has been used as a surrealist image of encapsulated time, of sexuality, and for the feminine. This is a fitting season to work with eggs, since, still inside the Easter vacation period, today is also, incidentally, the sixth day of Passover.

2/. I had wanted to show you a moment from the film The Legend of Suram Fortress., by the Georgian director Sergei Paradjanov. sadly, I was introduced to his work after his death by friends in Russia. In the film there is a poignant moment for me, an image in which the poet, preparing to seal his fate within the walls of the tower throws a basket of eggs into the mortar he is mixing, and with which he will construct his own tomb. What was so compelling in this moment is the image of the basket of eggs being hurled into the mortar, the catastrophe of the destruction of perfect form.

The title of a performance by the Japanese Butoh Group Sankai Juku gives an insight to the nature of my piece here : Unetsu : Eggs Standing out of Surprise. here the eggs, shaven white heads, and images of suspension, of encapsulated time, sit comfortably together.

3/. I think my interest in eggs originates from a comic strip film review in a MAD magazine. It was a satirical review of a Paul Newman film, Cool Hand Luke, but called Blue Eyed Kook. Newman is in a hard boiled-egg eating competition. At the 50th egg there was a wonderful drawing of his buddies pushing the last egg into Newman’s mouth, his eyes bulging and abdomen distended.

4/. The Gravity of the Egg is supreme, it rises above Newton’s apple, and falls with fabled authority and a tragic finality (do not drop an egg). Humpty Dumpty…….

Consider the egg and spoon races of childhood parties. The sexual awakening of a prick and prick blow or suck job, the whole yolk passing down the throat like oysters and Guiness.

The egg marks time.


5/. Professor Julius Sumner Miller was an American who lectured on The Summer Science School on one of the Commercial TV stations in the 1960’s & 70’s. Later he started doing advertisements for Cadbury’s chocolates, doing simple physics demonstrations to punctuate the selling point. Cadbury’s glass and a half of fresh full-cream milk in every bar would translate to shelled eggs in a milk bottle. He’d demonstrate how a flame could be used to consume the oxygen inside the milk bottle, creating a partial vacuum; he then placed a shelled hard-boiled egg over the mouth of the bottle. The lower pressure inside allowed the egg to be sucked, or pushed, into the bottle. Apparently the milk bottlers have had a lot of trouble with returned bottles containing partially decomposed eggs. Personally, I’ve found the mouth of an Australian milk bottle to be too narrow.

The malleability of the shelled hard-boiled egg was the basis for an idea which allows the egg to be transformed into a square for parties and sandwiches, rather than genetically engineer the hens to lay square eggs. The advantage of these eggs is that they will sit in squat obedience.

6/. Actually eggs would not be stronger if they were square. The egg is an incredibly strong structure, it can withstand extreme pressures on each end equally. Unfortunately it cannot support pressure on its sides.

7/. There are several ways to tell the difference between a soft egg and a hard one.

  • Hold it up to the light, shake and listen, this will give the first clue.
  • Punch a hole in each end and suck, or blow.
  • Try to crack it open.
  • Spin the egg and then stop it momentarily. if the egg resumes spinning then the fluids inside are still liquid, free to move independently of the hard exterior.


8/. There is an old trick, to play on drunken companions: How do you balance an egg on its end to make it stand up? For that matter, recalling Lilliput, which is the correct end? The simple answer is, of course, that one imposes one’s will on the egg. The eggs are forced to stand to attention by having their bottoms broken.


9/. I’m going to demonstrate the culinary preparation of eggs over here during the other performances. I quote from The Book of Eggs : “In fact, cooking with eggs is really just cooking. With a dozen eggs in the refrigerator you need never be at a loss to feed the family, or to entertain casual droppers in as handsomely as though you had known they were coming.”

I hope that at the end of the evening I will have a few Spanish Omelettes on Turkish bread for sale. The eggs boiling on the other side will be well and truly done now, since I’ve ignored the three-minute rule to a perfect soft-boiled egg. I will plop them into cold water so that the shells come off freely, not unlike prawns, in a way.

Project Details
Dates 20 Apr 1995
Duration 30 minutes
Producer Artspace
Category solo
Credits Curator : Nicholas Tsoutas ; Photographer : unknown