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  • Paddy Docherty

Heilige Margit von der Eier (Saint Margaret of the Eggs)


Sculpture of broken eggshells painted red inside
Heilige Margit von der Eier, mixed media, July 2022

Introduction

Heilige Margit von der Eier (a German title translating roughly as ‘Saint Margaret of the Eggs’) is a process-work capturing an individual act of metabolism by a Czech young woman – Markéta – visiting the English countryside not far from London, during the summer of 2022. The piece appears to raise multiple questions. How did her act of egg consumption take on such significance for the local people? What does this incident and the way it was recorded tell us about prevailing views in the area, particularly in respect of mass consumerism and the attendant environmental damage? Was she making an ideological statement in choosing to metabolise three (3) free-range eggs less than an hour by train from what was once the capital of a global empire? Or was she just hungry?


Process

The essential preliminary to this work was, naturally, Markéta’s train travel from London Charing Cross to Marden, Kent, the site of eventual egg consumption. Voicemail evidence confirms that this journey was completed by 1936hs on Friday July 8th, but sadly was not recorded visually.


During the afternoon of Sunday July 10th (the reason for delay is unknown), Markéta elected to prepare three eggs for consumption. From this point onwards, the full process was recorded for posterity.



The pictures above show the actual egg box from which the eggs in question were taken, and the indentations A-C have been identified as those they originally occupied. Markéta is shown at 1456hs on July 10th in the act of cooking eggs; keen observers will note an original Abbas photograph in the background of the Marden sculpture kitchen, showing Muhammad Ali at the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in 1974.


Minutes later, Markéta removed herself outside, and consumed the prepared eggs while seated in the Moses-Marden Sculpture Park (pictures below). Also recorded was her exact view from her position on the grass, giving her a fairly comprehensive visual survey of the park, albeit from a relatively low angle.



Immediately after egg consumption was completed, the eggshells were washed and preserved, and grass from the precise location was gathered using kitchen scissors; with the addition of a suitably organic miniature plinth and the sourcing of oil paint (crimson alizarin and cadmium red), the reliquary could be constructed. Despite the obvious devotion of the local people to this remarkable work, sources have confirmed that it is now held by a private collector in Central Europe.



Antecedent Factors

It may be significant that Markéta (who speaks German among other languages) comes from Prague, the historical capital of Bohemia, which was for almost four centuries from 1526 an imperial possession of the German-speaking Habsburg Dynasty. Prague (or ‘Praha’ in Czech) is now the capital city of the Czech Republic, which remains strongly influenced by Catholicism despite experiencing several decades in the Soviet sphere as a member of the Warsaw Pact. Markéta describes herself as a ’cultural Catholic’.


broken egg sculpture on wood, with red paint inside
Heilige Margit von der Eier, mixed media, July 2022 (alternative view)


 

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