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Chicken Coop


Installation at the Petach-Tikva Museum for Art, Petach Tikva

Curator: Yehudit Matzkel, 2006

Photos: Hilit Kadouri

"In Assi Meshullam's installation Chicken Coop, the residents of the chicken coop rise up one morning and decide to take matters into their own hands. Cultured nature, tamed to serve economic and household needs, revolts against its jailer and violently overcomes him. The ultimate hangman, who justifies his actions morally, finds himself attacked by his victims – in a wild lynching, which has no father and no mother, no past and no future; which is not driven by revenge, but rather by terror that has crystallized into murder, by hunger which has turned into pecking.


Meshullam's bustling poultry pull and bite, tear and gnaw. Their appearance extends from death to life, from poultry to grilled chickens. The culture that had been imposed on them collapses under the weight of crowdedness and hunger, fear and lack of control. It is soon replaced by wild, violent nature, which transcends its beaten soldiers, which takes vengeance upon those who sought to oppress it.


The poultry farmer is defeated by the overwhelming violence, surrenders to the transformation imposed on him, bringing to an end his ambivalent role as a predator, butcher and midwife; grower, nurturer and grim reaper. The cock, both a symbol of masculinity and cowardice, announcing the new day but also a potential meal, turns from an agricultural product into a lethal disease, a parasite that kills its host and thus condemns itself to death. Life in a threatened environment grows within the chickens like malignant tumors, which metastasize and turn them from farm animals into hunters and devourers of carcasses. They infect them with the same violence that had placed them there to begin with, thereby extending the cycle of violence, whose edges get closer to home. Assi Meshullam's scene is allegorical to his perception of our existential state, here and now".


- Yehudit Matzkel, Disruptions: Life in a Threatened Space, 2006.



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