Chapelle de Poulet
AN ESSAY IN XIII PIECES
In 1978 artist Jeffrey Vallance bought a frozen fryer chicken at the Ralph’s Supermarket in Canoga Park, California. He later buried the chicken at the Los Angeles Pet Cemetery after a brief memorial service. He also installed a grave marker for the frozen bird, naming her Blinky the Friendly Hen. This seriocomic artwork has taken the concept and processes of documentation to its most absurd conclusion. The piece became the quintessential conceptual artwork of the 1970s and Vallance’s straightforward approach offers a striking commentary on our society, the treatment of animals, spirituality and death. The year 2018 marked the 40th anniversary of Vallance’s Blinky project and, in celebration of this historic event, Vallance has released The Special 40th Anniversary Edition of the publication, Blinky (published in 2019 by California State University, Northridge Art Galleries) in conjunction with an exhibition at CSUN featuring a Blinky Chapel, Reliquary Chamber, Theatre, Poultry Gift Shop and “Free Range” a group show including over 80 international artists. Below, we’ve Vallance’s reflections on the sanctity of the chicken—a study of the chicken as a catechistic carrion vehicle for the serious study of spirituality in thirteen pieces. Click through the titles to take the essay piece by piece.
Sacred chickens—Dinosaurs to the New Testament—Poultry industry in ancient Judea—Jesus as mother hen—A chicken in the manger—in the lord’s flock
Eggs of resurrection—Mary Magdalene’s egg turns blood red—Offering eggs to the dead—The shroud appears on eggs—White house Easter Egg Roll
Cock betrayal—Roosters in the catacombs—The Good Shepherd with a rooster—Demons tremble at cockcrow—Poultry: Emblem of Christianity—Master of courtesy—Ancient chicken archetype
Chickens swinging overhead—Rooster as human substitute—Kosher chicken slaughter—Channels for atonement—Cocks on potsherds—Sacrificial rooster
Sacred chickens of Rome—Poultry divination—Chicken feed omens—Chickens stamping their feet—Ancient roman chicken fragment
Giant white rooster in Islamic heaven—His comb reaches the second heaven—Crows the name, “Allah”—They have seen an angel—Aniconism—Calligraphic roosters and eggs
Zodiacal roosters—Ghosts are afraid of cocks—Prayer boards—Goddess of laughter—Meditating Buddhist chickens—Confucian weddings—Eating chicken to go to heaven
Hindu rooster crows, “Om”—Rooster as emblem of war—Chickens tied to Indonesian cremation ritual—Transgender chicken goddess
African rooster spirit mask—Traces of crusted patina—Cock sacrifice—Drinking rooster blood—Votive offerings—Borneo rooster effigy on shaman medicine box
Rooster heralds castrated Greek god—Nordic rooster perches atop tree of life—Slavic hut walks on chicken legs—Siberian shrines
Voodoo and folk beliefs—Symbol of purification—Chicken feet in rituals—Brooms for spiritual cleansing—Black chicken aerosol spray—Writings of the magi—Necromancy and conjuration—Manufacturing a magic chicken
The ever-vigilant spirit rooster sounds the alarm
Jeffrey Vallance was born in 1955 in Redondo Beach, CA. In 1979, he received a B.A. from CSUN and, in 1981, an MFA from Otis. He lives and works in Los Angeles. His work blurs the lines between object making, installation, performance, curating and writing. Often his projects are site-specific such as burying a frozen chicken at a pet cemetery; traveling to Polynesia to research the myth of Tiki; having audiences with the king of Tonga, the queen and president of Palau and the presidents of Iceland; creating a Richard Nixon Museum; traveling to the Vatican to study Christian relics; installing an exhibit aboard a tugboat in Sweden; curating shows in the fabulous museums of Las Vegas, such as the Liberace and Clown Museum. In Lapland Vallance constructed a shamanic “magic drum,” In Orange County, Mr. Vallance curated the only art world exhibition of the Painter of Light entitled “Thomas Kinkade: Heaven on Earth.” In 1983, he was host of MTV’s The Cutting Edge and appeared on NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman. In 2004, Vallance received the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation award. In addition to exhibiting his artwork, Mr. Vallance has written for such publications and journals as Art issues, Artforum, L.A. Weekly, Juxtapoz, Frieze and Fortean Times. He has published over 10 books including: Blinky the Friendly Hen, The World of Jeffrey Vallance: Collected Writings 1978-1994, Christian Dinosaur, Art on the Rocks, Preserving America’s Cultural Heritage, Thomas Kinkade: Heaven on Earth, My Life with Dick, Relics and Reliquaries, The Vallance Bible and Rudis Tractus (Rough Drawing).
Jeffrey Vallance original artworks appear courtesy of Edward Cella Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.