Contact: Kikuko Tanaka,

Mystery of Rotten Eggs

performed with Eric Heist & Raymond Fun in conjunction with CITYDRIFT, Brooklyn, NY in September 2012

“Oh, shit! Artists are coming! They want to give you 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 whoever 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 a 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 returned reciprocity. Yet, anthropological research reveals that gift often functions to re-produce 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.




The phamphlet distributed at the performance

Documentation of the Performance

Photo/video credit: Hiroshi Shafer & Ivy Castellanos