18 April 2006


Since leaving the US for the first time in 1997, I have come to classify events in my life as US-same and US-different. This works for big and little things alike. Bad traffic? US-same. A game of chicken at every intersection both major and minor? US-different. It is simple enough.

Like traffic, eggs are both same and different.
US-same: you can get brown or white, they come in what the US calls medium, large or x-large, you pay money for them, and unlike other things the price is roughly the same.
US-different: eggs come in flats of 30, you can buy as many or as few off the flat as you want, medium, large and x-large eggs are not separated, and there is no cost increase for the larger ones.

I bet it is among the things that make the US a burning hell for off-the-boat Lebanese. Just like everything else in America, eggs are sorted, numbered, standardized, etc. etc. The pervasive order of eggs and everything else must be maddening.

In my refrigerator, a haphazard array of large and small eggs clusters happily in the little tray at the top of the door. Not unlike nearly everything else in my life, the egg situation here makes me think of art.

This is a 1968 sculpture by Louise Bourgeois. Little egg-like forms seem to unveil themselves as we watch. There isn’t much order, regularity, or consistency within this piece. Whatever it is, this sculpture isn’t a minimalist work. It isn’t about repeatability, clean lines, or uniformity. In would never be mistaken for a Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Robert Morris, Sol LeWitt, Tony Smith, or the work of any minimalist sculptor who was active during the same period. You can find something similar in the work of Brancusi or Jean Arp. They were both pretty big fans of egg shapes, but they also were both dead when Bourgeois made her sculpture.

Eggs are a loaded symbol culturally and artistically. At present, I am positioned between the two Easters Lebanon acknowledges, and that combined with the general springiness of the season means that there are eggs everywhere. They symbolize life, rebirth, the future, a new beginning and it isn’t lost on artists.


katperkins said...

I'd have to imagine you've taken a ridiculous amount of art history classes, but I find it very impressive that you can remember all these people's work. I seem to retain very little information.

Mary Ann said...

I actually research more than I remember, but yeah, those classes had a big influence on me and my view of art.

Matthew said...

That is a very apt synopsis of Lebanese/American ways of doing business.