top of page

I agamben fries an egg |

- proposition to a philosopher to fry an egg
- performative verbatim with elements of a quest, philosophical dialogs, logic game and mis en scene

installation within 6th Moscow Biennale special project, 2015

with Ekaterina Vasilyeva 

Conceived in two parts, a performative adventurous game-quest and an installation, this piece engages a philosopher who’s critical writings largely influenced the sphere of contemporary art, to empirical transfiguration of theoretical concepts as a co-author and co-performer.


The first part (tromsø --- grado), the performative game, is a metaphorical projection of adventures of Alice in <Alice through the looking glass> by Lewis Carrol. The happenings during the performance are relevant to those of the moves of the hero through the chessboard universe. 


The second, the installation, happens in a form of an exhibition in a gallery. 

A fried egg (sunny side up or oeuf au miroir) is simultaneously one of the most common examples of a breakfast and also a reminiscence of a day-to-day break- fast of Wittgenstein. The philosopher’s ascetic, austere and chaste manner of everyday life was a projection of his mode of thought. His late idea of <form of life> is developed by Agamben from the point where Wittgenstein stopped due to the end of physical life. 

I agamben fries an eggI. part I



Ekaterina and Hanna undertook the idea of frying an egg with Giorgio Agamben as a logic-alchemic problem, as a game and an adventure which is constructed as a metaphorical projection of adventures of Alice in «Alice through the looking glass» by Lewis Carrol.


The eleven moves of Alice through the chessboard universe where she meets Humpty Dumpty at d6 square, were adopted as a metaphor for interaction with reality, so that this binary dimension mediates events of different systems and at the same timecreates space for reflection.

The game starts from the moment when the hero utters her will to play

and to transform. It is only after this utterance she is to make a move.

It implies pre-existing rules and codes, but at the same time its unfolding is full of extemporary events, as perceived by the hero. It is of the nature of an alchemic process, where the knowledge of the procedure foreshadows the way, but the inner peripeteias elude predetermined limits. The game is a way of a hero, through peripeties to his arcane self, that already exists in him from the beginning, but needs a way to be accomplished to reveal itself, as a Pawn that already contains a potentiality of a Queen but needs to go through a game to accomplish itself. ‘


Alice through the looking glass’ is a metaphor which diffuses its semantic repertoire of images on the structure and the events of the way, where the Wood without Names is an extralinguistic universe, the Shop with Vanishing Objects is an inconceivability of empirical world, Humpty Dumpty is a trickster and a toon who eludes the power of language.

The journey starts in Norway, where  Wittgenstein found his exile for a while. There a linguistic and philosophic inquiry is initiated by uttering the phrase <Agamben fries an egg>. This utterance triggers the reality in which this specific linguistic construction creates a ‘quantic’ state of things: the extra-linguistic reality to which it refers from this point is that of where he simultaneously fries it and fries it not.

We meet Agamben in Grado, in hotel Astoria, where we start a series of conversations, initiated by the proposition to fry an egg.


By focusing on a mundane act and by an attempt to translate it to a domaine of absent purpose, we are addressing such questions as that of action and gesture, anonymity of names (paradox of White Knight), suspended image and image-movement, being in language and being; and others, in a form of a gag-like situation as that of frying an egg with a philosopher.



This proposition exists as such - a sentence with subject and predicate. As an utterance, which means being in language, the phrase IAgamben fries an eggI incorporates all potential scenarios of how this phrase could be actualized - but also it simultaneously and radically denies them all. Therefore being in language comprises all possible and impossible scenarios at the same time, making room for hope and for whatever.


I agamben fries an eggI. part II

installation within 6th Moscow Biennale special project, 2015


with Ekaterina Vasilyeva 

The d6 square is not merely a spacial designation, but a system of events. It could arrange itself in a multitude of specific ways during the whole period when the hero is passing through it. According to the Humpty Dumpty law of thermodynamics, the more the number of the ways this system may be arranged, the more the entropy, and at some point, when the actual irreparable event happens, the level of disorder increases to such a state, where the hero is to make the next move.



Within the black space of a chess square a formula, letters, speech exist as different modes of being of an utterance «Agamben fries an egg».

Installation elements :

          Black square space, 600 x 500 x 600 cm


          Plasma screen, 93 x 52 cm. Conversation between Hanna, Ekaterina and Giorgio Agamben which starting point is the artists' proposition to the philosopher to fry an egg


          Deep freeze, 60 x 50 cm. Likewise, this cube preserves emptiness, frozen in the moment of now. It also envelops potentiality for a testament of an event that comes - an artifact in a form of an egg fried by Agamben


           Mirror, 90 x 60 cm, within which a viewer can read the first text. As Jabberwocky poem which Alice reads in the mirror and which marks the start of her adventure, this text was the first project description submitted to the institution. It is written backwards.

          “Bothallchoractorschumminaroundgansumuminarumdrumstrumtrumin- chumptadurnpwaultopoofoolooderamaunstumup! “

Quote from James Joyce Finnigans Wake, printed on the wall 600 x 30 cm


            Formula, hand-written, chalk on the wall, 300 x 270 cm
The formula draws connections between any egg, the egg, Agamben's egg and Wittgenstein's breakfast


           Chess figures, the Pawn and the Queen, lg 50 cm, put outside of the square.

bottom of page