French performance artist Abraham Poincheval will, in his words, “become a chicken” in his latest performance stunt, titled Oeuf (Egg). The 44-year-old artist will incubate ten eggs with his own body heat while inside a glass vivarium and on display to visitors at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo museum. “I will, broadly speaking, become a chicken,” Poincheval told the BBC.
Abraham Poincheval in Oeuf (Egg)
It takes, on average, 21 days for a chicken egg to hatch once incubation begins. During this period Poincheval will live in the vivarium, wrapped in an insulating blanket – designed by Korean artist Seglui Lee – and sitting on a specially designed chair that holds the eggs in a container under the seat.
During the incubation period, Poincheval will only be able to leave the eggs for 30 minutes per day – during which he will take his meals. The artists plans to eat “heating” food such as ginger to generate more heat for the eggs.
With the artist’s only egg-free moments taken up by meals, there will be no time for toilet breaks – a box beneath his chair will allow him to relieve himself without abandoning his charges.
The artwork has raised animal welfare concerns, however, with scientists pointing out that humans have a lower body temperature than chickens and that embryos incubated under low temperatures typically grow abnormally or die earlier. “We’ve had people try incubating at very low temperatures, and we had very, very low incubation rates,” R. Michael Hulet, an associate professor of animal science at Penn State University told Time. “It’s a welfare situation. You want to have the ideal conditions so that those birds that hatch have the best chance at life. This seems like it’s putting them in an abnormal situation.”
Poinchevl in Pierre (Stone)
“I think that life is more important than some of those things that are called art,” he said.
As for Poincheval, this is not the first time personal endurance and discomfort have played a role in his art. Oeuf comes just weeks after Pierre (Stone) in which the artist lived inside a large limestone rock, hollowed out to fit his body. He lived inside the rock for a week, “trying to escape from human time and experience mineral speed.”
Abraham Poincheval living inside a bear
In 2014, he spent two weeks in Paris’s Museum of Hunting and Nature living inside a hollowed-out bear carcass, eating worms and beetles to mimic the animal’s diet. He has also spent a week on top of a 20m pole outside the Gard du Nord train station. If all goes to plan with Oeuf, his chicks should hatch not long after Easter.