Oeufre · Les chefs d'oeufre

By: Stefanie Herr

Today’s commercial laying hens have been selectively bred for hyper-production. Reduced to mere production units, some improved breeds can lay over 300 eggs in a year - almost an egg a day.

The vast majority of egg laying hens around the world are kept in cramped, barren battery cages, and spend their entire lives inside large warehouses, unable to express even the most basic of natural behaviours.

“Oeufre” aims at synthesising the absurd existence of the alienated, oppressed and exploited individual and expose the perverse excesses of a profit-driven society that does not even spare creation: To get a sense of a commercial hen’s life, I subjected myself to the repetitive and exhausting task of manually producing one cardboard egg almost every day throughout 2016.

Virtually mass-produced and performed with machine-like efficiency, each of these 300 hand-cut and assembled, individually numbered white cardboard eggs proves as unique as a bird’s egg, though.

On completion of the 12-month production process, the project entered a second phase: I photographed my cardboard creations in 57 different egg boxes from all over the world. The price of each of the 57 resulting photographs - “Les chefs d'oeufre” - is determined by the cost of the box portrayed, and the number of copies available equals the number of eggs in the image.

That way, the project not only scrutinises the prevailing mode of production that encourages uniformity and monoculture solely for the purpose of maximizing profits, but also aims to confront a culture that relentlessly pushes ever more individuals into precarious working and living conditions, and, all too often, confuses quantity with quality, production with creation and price with value.

Photos: Chef d’oeufre no. 17 | UnmarkedArchival pigment print on Hahnemühle Fine Art Pearl 285 gsm, 2017Limited edition of 6, 42 x 29. 7 cmChef d’oeufre no. 21 | UnmarkedArchival pigment print on Hahnemühle Fine Art Pearl 285 gsm, 2017Limited edition of 6, 42 x 29.

7 cmChef d’oeufre no. 38 | UnmarkedArchival pigment print on Hahnemühle Fine Art Pearl 285 gsm, 2017Limited edition of 3, 42 x 29. 7 cm

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