Bird of paradise
The work consists of prints and a slide projection with voiceover.It talks about the tiny moment of innocence when people believe in change and utopia. The moment that gives them strength to continue and attempt to build a different kind of community. The narrative is juxtaposed by excerpts from Attars story " The conference of the birds".
In 1522, the first preserved specimens of the paradise bird arrived in Europe in the cargo holds of the only ship to survive Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe.
They were given as special gifts to the King of Spain from the Sultan of Batchian (present day island of Tidore); the Portugese sailors they were told they were “the birds of the Gods”. The species were Paradisaea apoda, Greater Birds of Paradise, from the lowland forest of mainland New Guinea.They were an unusual sight, like nothing anyone had ever seen before because they had been prepared in the traditional way by native New Guineans, with legs and wings removed and the skins carefully dried over a fire to shrink them and accentuate the wonderful yellow plumes.
The exotic beauty of these birds, coupled with the way they had been preserved (no feet, no wings) and the belief that they lived in the heavens, caused a stir among 16th century European naturalists. It was thought that the birds must have come from Eden, the earthly paradise believed to exist and they were christened “The Birds of Paradise.” Around the year 1640, the artist Rembrant made a charcoal study of two preserved specimens. Their vocalizations are among natural sounds that most approximate human speech. In Conference of the birds a Persian poem by Attar one follows the story of a journey by a group of 30 birds, led by an hoopoe as allegory of a Sufi sheikh leading his pupils to enlightenment. Eventually only thirty birds remain as they finally arrive in the land of Simorgh — all they see there are each other and the reflection of the thirty birds in a lake — not the mythical Simorgh. It is the Sufi doctrine that God is not external or separate from the universe, rather is the totality of existence. The thirty birds seeking the Simorgh realise that Simorgh is nothing more than their transcendent totality. The idea of God within is an idea intrinsic to most interpretations of Sufism. As the birds realize the truth, they now reach the station of Baqa (Subsistence) which sits atop the Mountain Qaf.
Come you lost Atoms to your Centre draw,
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw:
Rays that have wander’d into Darkness wide
Return and back into your Sun subside
Glasslides with crystalline solution (same principle as image fixation). C-Prints. Record. Time.