Chicken on Foot

Nina Sobell

1974 | 00:08:20 | United States | English | Color | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Early Video Art, Single Titles

Tags: Body, Feminism, Performance, Video History

In Chicken on Foot, Sobell bounces a chicken carcass as one would a child, periodically crushing eggs (fetal chickens) on her knee. A statement of the displacement of sexual desire on food and women’s bodies, and an expression of female ambivalence about motherhood.

“Tersely but accurately titled, Sobell’s Chicken on Foot opens to reveal a naked leg diagonally traversing the screen. A hand attempts to balance an egg upon the knee, and no sooner is this accomplished than the egg is smashed. As the goo runs down the leg, the foot attached kicks high in the air. A knee-jerk response, you say, but more follows. A pan-ready chicken, leaving the foot, is treated to trips up and down the slime-covered leg, dangled on the knee and engaged in some sophisticated baby talk. Finally, as its off-screen mother decides to take it to some egg laying, it says bye-bye to the camera and to us. The tape is funky in a way Rufus Thomas would never have imagined, and neo-humanist readings aside, what I liked best about it is that it’s so entirely off the wall, so entirely incompatible with my mundane reality, that I get a glimpse of a profoundly original frame of consciousness. By investigating thoroughly idiosyncratic territory, Sobell has circumvented the disadvantages most video artists stumble over and made a tape in which comparisons with commercial video are neither possible nor relevant.”

—David James, “Laughing at TV,” Artweek 14:23 (18 June 1983)

An excerpt of this title is also available on I Say I Am: Program 1.

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