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REACTION: Scott McPheeters’ Chick

Posted September 10th, 2008

We filed into a tiny brick studio on Cuthbert Street. Before us sat the Chick (Sarah Nye), garbed in white knickers that suggested the feathers of the most familiar domestic fowl. Her flapping wings emerged and she began to twitch and itch, she started to sniff and peck, and cough? That’s right, the Chick began to grumble and cough. Her whole body heaved until suddenly she flew off her perch, leaving behind a single white carton. A lamp that hung low above her head suddenly glowed red.

<%image(20080910-Chick web.jpg|350|263|Scott McPheeters)%>The Chick examined the white carton, carefully opening it and producing a single fried chicken wing. She sniffed, touched, and eventually rubbed the skin of the chicken wing all over her body creating a shining glaze on her skin, to better cook herself under the lamp. She rubbed in the oils, patted herself dry, and gazed up at the red light as if to hurry along the process. One audience member whispered, “a cooking lamp.”

The Chick is one mysterious bird, aching to be fried, curious about the result, and protective of a lone wing. Scott McPheeters created this piece for Sarah Nye, and her physicality summons a distinct fowl-like affect.

The Chick leads us into a world where chickens long to be cooked and devoured, perhaps because they are naïve or just looking for a really fierce tan. The Chick’s world is full of curiosity and discovery. After a nibble on the fried wing, the Chick chokes in horror and disgust, spitting it out, confused by her accidental cannibalism. The wing is carefully protected in its white container, like take-out food, rather than the insides of an egg shell. She even crafts a nest for it out of crumpled coupon ads. The Chick is both woman and chicklette, domestic and wild. McPheeters’ choreography is silly and playful, and Sarah Nye is one adorable chick.

–Anneliese Van Arsdale

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