In this work, Porter juxtaposes incongruous objects, heavy with references to art history, in a masterfully simple and witty play on the existential conundrum: which came first, the chicken or the egg?
But it’s more complex than that. First, we’re not just looking at a bird contemplating an egg. We’re looking at a photo of a fake bird which is itself looking at not only a fake egg, but a photo of a fake egg. True to her roots in the magical realism of literary South America, Porter is asking us to consider both the nature of “reality” as well as the veracity images.
Second, by appropriating an image of a sculpture by the modern master Brancusi, porter is staking her claim on art history and adding herself to the pantheon of “great” (and usually-male) artists.
The bird becomes our surrogate, gazing at the photo of the artwork just as we might consider Brancusi’s sculpture in a museum; or this artwork by Porter in a gallery. The bird reflects on the origin of its existence as we’re asked to spend a moment examining the meaning of our own existence.
Finally, we’re asked to acknowledge the act of looking and the meaning and value of art.