Thursday, December 17, 2015

Free-Range Eggs at Kate Werble Gallery

by Drew Martin
I was at a company holiday luncheon later this afternoon in TriBeCa and one of the topics discussed was the yolk-to-egg white ratio. A young colleague, who is an engineer, was arguing that the yolk should be bioengineered to a fraction of its size. So to my surprise, walking back from our department gathering to my office in SoHo, I passed the Kate Werble Gallery full of sunny-side-up fried egg sculptures: LIVESTRONG by Christopher Chiappa. The 7,000 resin and plaster eggs (584 dozen plus a few extra) cover the floor and walls of the two-room gallery. Although I was in a bit of a rush, the eggs were playful and inviting so I stopped in for a few minutes to have a look and take some pictures (posted here).

The show is surreal and makes me think about the use of eggs in the history of painting (egg tempera) and of artists who have represented eggs: Salvador DalĂ­ and Claes Oldenburg first come to mind. The multiplication of the eggs also conjures up sci-fi references, like the classic Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles, when furry, featureless pom-pom creatures reproduce at an alarming rate and threaten the integrity of the Starship Enterprise. 

Aside from the immediate fun of this installation, the deeper meaning is of course in the idea of reproduction. The eggs we consume are unfertilized and sexless, and a chicken without a rooster can yield an egg a day. In the classic paradox, Which came first the chicken or the egg?, this installation offers a situation in which the chicken has been bioengineered out of the equation and the eggs themselves continue on through asexual reproduction.

It's a great show that put this little gallery on the map for me. I look forward to seeing what Kate has planned for this space in the new year.