Hiraṇyagarbha: Egging Me On
2016 & 2020
London, Easter 2016
Singapore, Easter 2020
Incubating the Rainbow Body, Breaking the Pain Body.
(Sanskrit: हिरण्यगर्भः ; lit: 'Golden Womb/Embryo', poetic: 'Cosmic Egg')
The Golden Egg is the source of the creation of the manifest universe in Vedic philosophy. It is mentioned in the Rigveda (RV 10.121), in the hymn Hiraṇyagarbha Sūkta. The Upanishads refers to the Golden Egg as the Soul of the Universe (ParaAtma or ParaBrahman). In Modern science this is often compared with the Big Bang theory, where the cosmos emerged from a single point.
This participatory performance art is an experiment in complicating the dynamics of power relationalities on two fronts.
First, it disrupts the traditional distribution of power in a carefully staged setting. Far from being on the receiving end of the performance, the audience is invited to throw 'easter eggs' filled with coloured paint on the seven chakras denoted by the 'bull's eyes'. These 'bull's eyes' are stencilled on the artist's torso, who is actively playing a purportedly passive role. Such an act of non-action, (or a means of 'doing by non-doing') foregrounds the directorial and transcendental power that the artist wields over the participants. Even while lying supine, he is also able to reclaim a sense of control, ironically by (sur)rendering. The artist is rendered vulnerable by surrendering to the audience, as well as to the continous assault of eggs and splattered paint. Meanwhile, auto-marks that are left behind by the rupturing of the paint-filled eggs bear testament to a profoundly intimate, cathartic and possibly transformative encounter between the artist and his participants.
Second, on a more personal front, Egging Me On is an exercise in penance and self-acceptance. Besides referencing Christian Easter iconography celebrating the Passion, death and rebirth of Christ, this performative piece is also evocative of the Hiraṇyagarbha, an ancient Indian ritual of purification involving a golden egg or vessel, representing the Cosmic Egg where all manifest reality sprung forth with a Big Bang via its self-destruction. Accordingly, such an exercise reflects the artist’s intention in transmuting adverse affective intensities related to trauma/abuse (e.g. humiliation) into more productive ones.
Finally, this performance makes room for seemingly dichotomous categories such as empowerment-disempowerment, activity-passivity, artist-audience to converge and be subverted, which is aligned to the artist's enduring efforts at dismantling dualistic perspectives. Through the unfolding of the piece, the artist and audience impact each other in visceral and intimate ways, each leaving transformed by the encounter.
2016 Performance Documentation
2020 Performance Documentation
Photographs courtesy of Ronald Low and Chloe Padirac