Walnut wood and live chicken
As Sebastian Errazuriz explains, the concept for the Chicken chair came out of the blue. « I drew it on the back of a business card and showed it to my wife and friends, but they all thought it was a dumb. Despite their remarks, I was obsessed with the little drawing of my chicken chair and continued to carry it around with me in my wallet.
I’m not quite sure why I loved the chicken chair. Perhaps it brought back memories as a child in South America, seeing chicken running around the dirt in someone’s backyard. Maybe it reminded me of Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl.
Errazuriz has been known to create furniture pieces that incorporate conceptual and sculptural themes into functional design, and to explore existential themes of life and death. « I have used bird taxidermy in my furniture many times, but never a live bird. There was something very beautiful about the idea of bringing life into a lifeless furniture piece. If wooden strips are commonly used in the back rest of the chair, why couldn’t those same strips provide a ceiling for the space under our legs, creating a cage for a live animal ? In my mind it made sense ; it seemed so beautiful and obvious, yet simple. »
The artist knew he wanted to make home for a chicken, as opposed to a raccoon, rabbit, or dog—animals that don’t really belong caged under a chair. He pictured the need to sit on the chair in addition to just placing the cage above the chicken, in order to avoid the often-frenzied chicken from toppling over the chair and escaping.
« This is where you get a tension that fascinates me. Sitting on top of a pecking chicken in order to keep it from escaping seems pretty unsettling : all that ruffling of feathers and nervous squawking, plus, the thought of getting your legs and butt peeked. It reminded me of the fighting cocks I had seen in Indonesia, kept trapped under giant wicker baskets until their next flight. »
Chickens are most commonly seen skinned and cellophane-wrapped in the supermarket isle. If the US population consumes more than 8 billion chickens a year, that’s roughly 20 million chickens per day, equating to 250 chickens killed per second.
« I like eating chicken, » says Errazuriz, « but I also want people to be aware of how they live and be aware of the consequences of the little choices they make each day. I would like for people to see one live chicken once more in their life, to find it both uncomfortable and beautiful at the same time. I see the Chicken chair as a simple but beautiful furniture piece, an exercice in awareness, a chair that literally comes to life and assumes a new function poking, and squawking questions at us. »