Labour of Love, Installation by Elyse Hochstadt

Labour of Love Installation by Elyse Hochstadt, Eggshell halves on end 11’ x 9’ and wooden swing, Courtesy of the Artist


Easily discarded but often associated with the idiom of not wanting to hurt one’s feelings (hence, walking on eggshells), Elyse Hochstadt’s Labour of Love installation of eggshells with a wooden swing hanging off to a corner of the piece provides the viewer with an identifiable reference – a carpet.  Yet, the thought of walking on this eggshell carpet makes actually walking on it an impossibility, which proves the point that most, if not all, colloquial phrases have a sense of absurdity. The cliché as art form proves to be a laborious task for the artist as well. According to Ms. Hochstadt, this piece must be assembled every time it is shown. The appeal, for me, has mostly to do with the process in that it is meditative in nature as well as a mental and physical exercise in creating order. Without seeing the assembled piece, I gather its similarity to Andy Golsdworthy due to the organic nature of the material and precise structure of laying each shell to create the perfect amount of tension for the entire piece to be held together. Its assembly and orientation differs every single time and no eggshell is ever put in the same exact place. In addition, to take such simple material and make a rather complex visual statement, there’s a sudden barrage of activity associated to the material that comes to mind. The act of cooking, cleaning, the notion of the home, of instability and the precarious nature of childhood with the swing. This imaginary being swinging atop eggshells must rely on a force other than their own body, perhaps, to gain momentum but with a resignation that something may break. As a viewer, you either want the setting to be serene and untouched or you want to run over the eggshells like a child running after birds on a sidewalk or through crispy fallen Autumn leaves.

There is something that stops you though. What exactly is it? Love has never been such a laborious or strenuous task to understand, which probably explains its intensity.

7 responses to “Labour of Love, Installation by Elyse Hochstadt”

  1. Hi, I found your blog via Mo’s. I am participating in the postaday2011 challenge, too. I am inspired by your format; art may be one of the few things under-exposed on the internet. The eggshell rug is beautiful, but it reminds me of my mother.

    1. Thanks so much for subscribing and the kind words! I definitely enjoy the format of your blog and find your posts to be an open door into a very interesting life. I’m looking forward to your posts and seeing what 2011 brings you! There are tons of blogs and web sites about art; however, it’s the supporters that may be lacking. However, I’m really happy you found me and hoping I can offer up stories and/or essays that pique your interest.

      About the eggshell carpet, I’m intrigued by the fact that it reminds you of your mother. I’m sure the artist would love to her that, actually. Much of where art stems from, even the most abstract art forms are derived from a sense of self and the self is an amalgamation of all sorts of things (one of the core elements – family). In any case, thanks again for following, Kim! 🙂

  2. I followed the link to Elyse’s page looking for more insight into this project. The fact that this is recreated each time it is displayed is fascinating! I was wondering about the logistics of this project though, such as what she does with the inside of the egg. I guess she could make tempura paint, but maybe she uses these installations to give back to the community she displays in by offering a free breakfast to those in need? Neat presentation Dorothy. I feel a sense of danger and guilt from this work… as I swing over the shells, gravity wins as I crash down into the shells against my passionate wishes to just “be”.

    1. You’ve made some really astute observations and I love the comments on materiality. The last part of your comment, about ‘danger and guilt’, I must say that the artist herself would love to hear that. I’m assuming here but much of Ms. Hochstadt’s work is, of course, meticulous work, craftsmenship, and odes to beauty as well as narrative, which are things she takes great care in conveying. Yet, the other half of it is the psychological reaction and connection the viewer has. Wonderful comments!

  3. Wow, I never thought about the phrase walking on eggshells, even though I use it all the time. Of course you CAN’T actually walk on them… Isn’t that the best, when art makes you re-examine things that you once took for granted.

    Sorry to be late to the party, btw. I thought maybe you’d given up on postaday, and then discovered that I hadn’t actually subscribed to your blog, although I meant to. Catching up now…

    1. Never late to the party! I’ve definitely been keeping up with the postaday2011 challenge. It’s difficult but even if I write a sentence, it’s well worth just keeping up with the writing practice. Thanks again for subscribing! I really appreciate it.

      About common sayings, I agree. Art has a wonderful way of reflecting, visually and/or experiently, what language may be unable to capture.

  4. I truly like your blog, the way you create posts and topic you covered are simply amazing. I understand how difficult it can be to get the website visitors interested. I have made the decision to add your blog to my blog list.

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