INVISIBLE BIRDS

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After 30 years of a studio practice and teaching, how does one reconcile the need to carry on as a maker in the face of escalating ecological issues? How does one love a pet conure like a family member, while acknowledging the Anthropocene’s part in the extinction of countless co-creatures?

The last Carolina Parakeet, the only North American parrot, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1918, exactly 100 years ago this year. One night I dreamt that there were nocturnal birds with feathers of vantablack. They couldn’t be seen, so they couldn’t be destroyed; they were adapted to human exploitation by evolving into “Invisible Birds.”

This project,"Invisible Birds" attempts to scratch out a humble gesture of concern regarding accelerating environmental destruction. The series makes use exclusively of expired tintype plates—up to 10 years beyond “usability”—destined to be discarded. The setting is a recently cleared plot of land close by my home, which serves as the backdrop to handmade cloth backdrops depicting flocks of birds, both crudely fabricated from small effigies and photographed as an exploding murmuration. An articulated wooden mannequin grows in the stump garden of absent trees, holding aloft a single bird, a drop of hope in an ocean of inevitable conflict.

 

© 2019 Rebecca Silberman

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