Auguste Rodin initially imagined his sculpture of Eve (1881) would be part of his much larger work Gates of Hell. However, the artist decided to exhibited Eve as an independent sculpture to high acclaim in Paris in 1881.
Why Rodin broke with long-standing convention, dating back centuries, to depict Eve without the apple and without Adam is unclear to me. (Adam and Eve are sometimes depicted together, but without an apple, when fleeing paradise which happens after the famous apple scene.)
My own reading of the sculpture tells me that Eve’s body posture expresses such agonizing regret and guilt, no apple is needed to remind the viewer of her role in throwing the world into more or less permanent disarray. In short, the woman has dropped “the forbidden fruit” because, to be blunt, there’s no doubt in Rodin’s own mind or the minds of much of patriarchal society, that she’s guilty as hell.
My installation Hey, did you drop something intends to question in a humorous way the male patriarchal explanation for the existence of evil: “’Why do bad things happen to good people?’ Obviously because a woman ate the forbidden fruit!”’ Specifically, I intend to trivialize the agonizing Eve and all she represents by asking her to pick up the apple and take a healthy, happy bite out of it.
Footnote: I’ve had opportunity to see Eve at the Frederick Meyer’s Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI, on several occasions when visiting family. Every time I see it, I feel deeply moved by this sculpture. I’m not questioning the work itself, but rather the unfortunate myth it represents in such a powerful way.