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Hiroshi Shafer & Ivy Castellanos

first performed on September 7, 2012
streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY
performed once in 2012


Eric Heist, Raymond Fun, Hiroshi Shafer, Ivy Castellanos

New York, NY


“Oh, shit! Artists are coming! They want to give us something. Let’s just avoid our encounter!”

Hypothetical reaction of the victims of the performance

“Mystery of Rotten Eggs” is a street performance that serves as a public warning of the danger of “gift.” The performers dress as chickens and attempt to distribute a basketful of rotten eggs to whomever they encounter on the street. Upon the receipt of an egg, the performers notify the recipient that “the egg is rotten because they were hoarded in dark storage for a long time, waiting to be distributed.” Then the performers besiege the recipient and demand a donation in return until the recipient gives up his/her resistance.

The piece stemmed out of my contemplation on how the language of “gift” came to be used both by leftists’ resistance and neo-liberal regimes. In the West, inheriting the Christian conception of “caritas,” the gift has been envisioned as generous, benevolent and altruistic, without expectation of reciprocity. Yet, anthropological research reveals that the gift often functions to reproduce the existing social hierarchy of power either in western or non-western societies. The performance was intended to share the paradox of gift with the public through random encounters.

Performed in conjunction with CITYDRIFT, organized by Peter Hopkin.