Great Escapes

04.25.14

The Latest Proof That Performance Art Is Bullshit: A Woman Who Births Paint-Filled Eggs From Her Vagina

Move over, Marcel Duchamp—a woman at Art Cologne has a profound new statement to make, and it involves plopping eggs out of an orifice.

Visitors to this week's Art Cologne fair were greeted with an unsightly sight: an attractive, naked women perched astride two ladders, squatting over a canvas. Swiss performance artist Milo Moiré was about to “birth” an abstract painting—by disgorging paint-filled eggs from her vagina.

Moiré, with her incredibly strong kegel muscles and what appeared to be sizable breast implants, wouldn't have been out of place at a Berlin burlesque club. But this was art.

According to Moiré, “PlopEgg Painting” is intended to evoke a “loose train of thoughts” about “the creation [of] fear, the symbolic strength of the casual and the creative power of femininity.” By plopping eggs. Out of her vagina. 

Of course, the act of squeezing paint-filled eggs from one’s canal onto a blank canvas is meant to be a profound statement about creativity and fertility (although confused passersby could have been forgiven for interpreting the performance as a commentary on Easter). And of course, Moiré’s nudity is integral to her message, designed as much to titillate art fair-goers and the press as to make a statement about reproduction.

The viewer is meant to have a transformative intellectual experience, reimagining conceptions of femininity and childbearing (or something). But if you want the full experience—in pornographic detail—it will cost you €5 to watch the “uncensored” version online. Truly transformative experiences don't come for free, after all.

Despite her clunky metaphors, Moiré, like most performance artists, must tell us the “meaning” of her work, lest the viewer misunderstand its seriousness.

If you want the full experience—in pornographic detail—it will cost you €5 to watch the “uncensored” version online.

Put obliquely by Moiré, “Within the context of art (performance), commerce (art fair) and opinion creation (media) a deliberate-accidental creation act happens, which instantly provokes ambivalent interpretations.” Judging by the baffled reactions of fairgoers, Moiré failed to provoke much ambivalence.

But she certainly managed to provoke attention. And therein lies the truth about contemporary performance art: It encourages people to do ever more outrageous things, resulting in spectacles that resemble not so much an ironic Theater of the Absurd as a bad TV game show.  From American artist Karen Finley, who made her reputation smearing her naked body in chocolate syrup, to stunt artists like Moiré, achieving fame in the world of performance art requires courting controversy in increasingly heavy-handed ways. But in the end, no one is talking about the message the artist is trying to make. Indeed, many of the news outlets reporting on Moiré’s stunt paid little attention to the resulting canvas. 

Moiré has created a conversation, but it’s one that ends with an obvious conclusion: Performance art is mostly bullshit.