28 June 2012

Mocking birds

As a contribution to the international contemporary art show Life Clock, artists Julius Von Bismarck and Julian Charriere have been painting on Copenhagen wildlife. 34 pigeons have been captured, painted with food dye, photographed and re-released. Making for a really spicy advertisement for the duration of the show, with six weeks until the paint is expected to wear off.

In an interview with the Kopenhagen Art Institute the curators of the show calls the dye job harmless, and admires how the low status bird have been elevated to something extraordinary. Unsurprisingly the ornithologists are not amused.

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I spotted a couple of the pigeons on Town Hall Square, both separated (or outcast?) from the grey flock, and each other, and seriously stressed by people chasing them down to take their picture. I was trying to keep my distance, using the zoom, but even so I too must have been a stress factor.

I am torn because I think they look really beautiful in colors. But at the same time I don't agree with the arrogance that lies behind painting on living creatures. Especially not if it causes them harm. Even if I am not a pigeon fan (I too call them flying rats), and I mostly feel sorry only for myself when I see one flattened on the road, they are still animals. Not ours to paint on or otherwise abuse.

Orange feet

Two sets of orange feet.

Deformed, tinted Copenhagen pigeon

The crippled pigeon. Now with paint. I want to apologize to this bird.

It is hard to imagine that there was a time when you at this very spot would buy pigeon seed at 10 øre a bag.

Due foder 10 øre

What are your thoughts on this, I wonder?

Links:
Den Frie (centre of contemporary art) 
Life Clock (the exhibition introduced in English)


17 comments:

  1. Som dyreven kan man jo lidt kun være imod. Jeg er faktisk ret glad for duer (og rotter for den sags skyld!) og bare fordi farven er harmløs (efter sigende) betyder det ikke at man skal have lov til at male på levende væsener for at promovere sig selv.

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    1. Selvom jeg ikke er vild med duer, har de jo ret til at leve. Det er svært at se dyr lide, og ingen der har set de farvede duer løbe stressede fra mennesker med kameraer kan påstå at det "gimmick" er harmløst.

      Mærkeligt, men desværre ikke overraskende, at folk er så ligeglade.

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  2. Det er nyt, lidt sejt og uden tvivl kunst (hvad er efterhånden ikke det?), men det er ikke ok.

    Vi gør meget andet mod dyr, der er mange gange værre ved dyr end dette (dårlige dyretransporter, anyone?), så disse duer er nok ikke de første, jeg kommer til at gå på gaden for.

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    1. Du har jo ret i at der hver dag sker det der er værre, for burhøns og andre indespærrede, skamklippede dyr. Så nej måske skal jeg heller ikke som det første på barrikaderne for de farvede duer. Men de tjener i det mindste det formål at udstille vores ligegyldighed.

      Kan ikke lade være med at kigge på det sidste billede, og tænke på hvilket ramaskrig der måtte have havde lydt, hvis nogen havde gjort det samme dengang.

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  3. I'm with you. They're very cool looking. But, obviously, painting birds is morally suspect.

    In a way, though, this seems almost symbolically wrong, as opposed to actually wrong, since thirty-four pigeons is virtually identical to zero pigeons when compared to the hundreds of thousands of pigeons we doom each month with all the polluting we do. Along with the million other creatures we never notice ourselves steamrolling. At least those 34 got counted? Without being sucked into a jet engine?

    I suspect, somehow, that if they caught someone painting pigeons, as opposed to being the ones behind it, all those same pigeon painters would be outraged.

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    1. It is true, and the guy just above you pointed out the same thing: we torture animals every day, without raising an eyebrow. The living conditions for caged chickens in Denmark, for instance, are nothing short of embarrassing. I still don't understand how we even get the option to buy eggs from tortured chickens.

      It just creeps me out a little bit how people shrug it off. They could at least pretend to be outraged, haha. Damn.

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  4. AnonymousJune 29, 2012

    det er jo lidt ligesom med sex: hvis den anden ikke selv har sagt ja tak til idéen, så der det bare ikke ok... tvivler på, duerne har sagt ja.
    kh muttilove

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    1. Hej Muttilove,
      Puha, ja. Det er et overgreb. Da jeg så den forkrøblede due, fik jeg det ekstra dårligt. Den kunne man godt have ladet slippe, hvis man ellers havde haft et nanogram af empati.

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  5. Hi Sandra, i think it looks pretty harmless. And yes we are doing much more harm with caged chicken, pollution, wild animal furs, eating huge amounts of meat (i'm no vegetarian but come on), and so many other things. When you see the beaches, so frightening! They are certainly prettier with colors.

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    1. Well.. it is hard to tell. According to the ornithologists it is everything but harmless, they have a long list of issues, that I skipped above. Even if it should prove not harmful, I am still opposed to using animals for a canvas.

      On the bright side, this stunt may shed a light on where we stand on animal rights. Maybe some good will come out of it, other than the disturbingly beautiful colored birds. Dammit. They do look better in colors. Ugh.

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  6. I don't know how I feel about it- I mean, the birds look really nice but what do we know about it? Maybe I would feel better if the ornothologists were involved at an early stage of the planning? Bottom line for me, though, is what does this accomplish? Is there a worthwhile end to the means? Guess that is what bothers me the most. Is the message worth it? (Or is there a message at all?)
    On that note- hope you are having a good day! :) Take care!

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    1. The artists got a lot of press, so in that regard it was a clever move. And the birds look good, in that surreal way. I spotted one today, in faded pink (it sounds like I am talking about a sweater, haha), we have had a couple of days of heavy rain, so the color may wash out faster than they predicted.

      Oh, and we just had a rare full day of real summer, it is like being in love. :-)

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  7. We had one yesterday! Enjoy :)

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  8. I dont like it. Unless the painters themselves were to be painted as well. Its not art its idiocy in my opinion.

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    1. That is one of the things that bug me about the label "art". Anything can be art, all you have to do is name it so. And if you say it is not, it is instantly implied that you are not sophisticated enough to get it. Sneaky.

      Fortunately the color is washing off fast, I spotted a faded pink bird yesterday.

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  9. I saw the artists catching the birds in a park (I did not know who they were or what were they doing)
    I asked my husband - shall we go and ask what are they doing with the poor birds?
    And he said - I don't care - as long as it is only pigeons...
    That sounded cruel, but I did nothing...
    So... they were painting the birds...
    I think it's a stupid idea... poor pigeons.

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    1. Ah, I was wondering where they caught them. Thinking maybe they would all return to the same location? But they are all over the place now, and fortunately fading fast.

      I don't know what I would have done, if I had seen it. Maybe assumed it was the city? When it comes to the swans, it is a whole different story, I once came by the guy who was placing rings on the swans, and it looked pretty dramatic. And even though he looked like he knew what he was doing, I had to check. It is unfair to pigeons that I love swans more. I just do. :-)

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