The Conference of the Birds presents:
Collaboration and contempt: Birds Eye Views
23. november: Online seminar
Time: 6.00-8.30 PM
Language: The seminar will be in English
The Conference of the Birds is a transdisciplinary, polyphonic and socially engaged art project with collaborations between artists, scientists and bird enthusiasts, reflecting on bird cultures and bird-human relations in the Nordic countries. Our intention is to help lift our human gaze into a bird’s eye perspective, renewing the way people think about birds but also finding new ways of welcoming and including birds back into our culture.
In Norway, we have lost over 30% of the total bird population in recent decades and many species are in danger of disappearing for good. The situation for seabirds is dramatic, with a reduction of up to 75% for several species over the last 30 years. This is an ecological disaster where human behaviour is the main cause.
Anchored in the project The Conference of the Birds in collaboration with NOBA (Norwegian BioArt Arena), the seminar will provide an insight into how we, through interdisciplinary exchange between art and science, work to draw attention to the birds’ belonging in our world. We are asking the question: How can we integrate birds into our culture and activate a physical and emotional engagement with birds by lifting our gaze and seeing the world from a bird’s eye view?
Programme (all times are CET/GMT+1)
18.00-18.10 How can art and science collaborate to create alternative perspectives?
Introduction to NOBA (Norwegian BioArt Arena) and the collaboration with The Conference of the Birds. Nora S. Vaage (NO)
18.10-18.25 Beyond-human art for endangered birds. Introduction to The Conference of the Birds project by curators and artists Ulrika Jansson (SE) and Eva Bakkeslett (NO).
18.25-18.40 The Great Cormorant – a Bird Worthy of a Song. Curator Ulla Taipale presents the artwork Chorus sinensis, Finland.
18.40-18.50 Over the pier, under the senses – an intro to the setting of Avian-Human in Copenhagen, spring 2023 Curator Oleg Koefoed, Denmark
18.50-19.00 Collective Imagination of the Nest by Becoming Species, a performance and climate activist collective based in Copenhagen, Denmark
PLEASE NOTE: We invite participants to gather twigs, branches and fabric scraps, and bring them to this interactive performance where each attendee will build a nest for endangered birds as part of a collective action.
19.00-19.10 FUGLESPOR / BIRD TRACES Workshop presented by Nana-Francisca Schottländer and Laura Winge, Denmark
19.10-19.20 VOICES – embodied knowledge of place Soundwork presented by Maiken Vibe Bauer Norway, Denmark
19.20-19.30 Ahoo Ahoo – Eiderducks and people exchanging cultures. Curator and artist Eva Bakkeslett, Norway
19.30-19.40 Docks, down and ducks at sea Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth aka Eyes as Big as Plates present their work with birds and the people on the island of Selvær. Norway
19.40-19.50 Varelse / Værelse Ulrika Jansson presents the project carried out in Frihamnen, Göteborg, Sweden
19.50-20.00 Becoming Spirit Bird Performance work presented by artist Pernilla Ljungkvist, Sweden
20.00-20.10 NEIGHBIRDHOOD Eco-social designer Christoph Matt presents his design workshops, Sweden
20.10-20.20 Rites of transformation at Koster islands and Österlen
Presented by artist group Gylleboverket, aka Etta Säfve and Jona Elfdahl, Sweden
20.20-20.30 Birding together: Conclusion of the seminar Eva Bakkeslett, Ulrika Jansson, Nora S. Vaage
Nora S. Vaage
How can art and science collaborate to create alternative perspectives?
Introduction to NOBA (Norwegian BioArt Arena) and the collaboration with The Conference of the Birds.
NOBA is a project at Vitenparken Ås, Norway and is an artistic hub and public arena for bioart. Here, art, research-based knowledge, critical thinking and new technology are combined in a desire to stimulate increased awareness of the environment, biology and sustainability in art. NOBA’s main focus is on projects at the intersection where art meets science, and The Conference of the Birds is just such a project, which asks how art and research can be united to give a new look at the drastic decline of birds.
Nora S. Vaage is a philosopher and scholar of art and media studies, with a PhD in philosophy of science and ethics. From this interdisciplinary perspective she writes and teaches on topics at the intersection between culture, society, and technology. She has for many years focused on bio- and eco art and biohacking. Her recent research focuses on the tensions of care and environmental media.
Nora is associate professor at NTNU and Nord University, and Lead Researcher at NOBA: Norwegian BioArt Arena. She leads the work package Experiential Soils within the research project Anthropogenic Soils: Recuperating Human-Soil Relationships on a Troubled Planet (2022-28). She occasionally works as a curator.
The Great Cormorant – a Bird Worthy of a Song
Chorus sinensis is an audio-visual choral work dedicated to the Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis). It was created between 2019 and 2022 in the coastal areas of the Bothnian Sea, where human and seabird territories overlap. Conceived and curated by Ulla Taipale, the piece combines videos, photographs and recordings made by artist Jan Eerala, with a choral composition written by composer and sound artist Lau Nau.
Ulla Taipale is Finnish curator, artist, and researcher, who has vast experience in creating and curating multidisciplinary projects combining arts and culture with natural sciences and natural phenomena. Her work is developed in collaboration with people and institutions from arts and sciences, internationally.
Over the pier, under the senses
An intro to the setting of Avian-Human in Copenhagen
The program that we carried out in Copenhagen in spring 2023 started in early February and ended in early June, on and near the former industrial pier of Islands Brygge, in the middle of Copenhagen. Today, the pier is part of a residential and business neighborhood, and the program Avian-Human aimed at triggering the attention of inhabitants and users of the pier area toward their (human) inter-existence with the birds of the area (Avian). Oleg will give a brief introduction to the geography, history, ecology and culture of the place, the overall flow of the interventions, and a couple of impressionistic snapshots of their landing on the pier. He will also give a short intro to the events that are not covered by the artists’ presentations – the reading group, the talk & walk on birds, migration and conflict with Nikolaj Noel Christensen.
Oleg Koefoed is a multidisciplinary ‘actionist’ studying and playing with how to raise human awareness toward regenerative relations with each other and the worlds they inhabit. After having co-created units working with culture and transdisciplinarity, sustainability, and urban nature, he now leads the Center for Vitalism and Regenerative Transformation, based in Copenhagen. His approach involves co-creating sites for learning, action-philosophical research, commoning through conversations, writings, and listening, as well as training of organisations and leaders in the public and private sectors.
Collective Imagination of the Nest
We invite participants to gather twigs, branches and fabric scraps, and bring them to this interactive performance where each attendee will build a nest for endangered birds as part of a collective action.
Whilst we build together, we will present one of our many performative actions. This action initially took place in connection to International Women’s Day in 2021 and raised awareness of the negative effects of building in the wild nature area of Lærkesletten on Amager Fælled in Copenhagen. Becoming Species combine more-than-human, feminism, activism and performance and biodiversity crisis.
Becoming Species is a performative, activist collective based in Copenhagen, exploring and criticizing the current climate emergency and biodiversity crisis on the limit between rebellion, protest and inspiration for future alternatives.
Nana-Francisca Schottländer and Laura Winge
FUGLESPOR / BIRD TRACES
The workshop FUGLESPOR / BIRD TRACES took place in Islands Brygge harbor front in Copenhagen; a collaborative and curious exploration of traces of bird life in a cityscape where birds often are considered unwelcome guests and are chased away or ignored. Attempting to pay attention to their lives, their ways, their preferences – and to find other ways of relating bodily, sensuously and speculatively to the bird/human entanglements of this place.
The workshop was developed in collaboration between design anthropologist Laura Winge and artist Nana Francisca Schottländer, based on their individual yet related practices and methodologies of ‘Going Visiting’ (NFS) and ‘Visiting as a subject- and object-making dance’ (LW), drawing inspiration from the work of (amongst others) Donna Haraway and Vinciane Despret.
Laura Winge is a visual artist and design anthropologist PhD. Her practice-based research frequently centers on codesign as ways of engaging, connecting and exploring dialogues with humans and others, sites and environmental networks.
Nana Francisca Schottländer is a transdisciplinary artist working with choreography, visual arts and performance as practice-based research exploring collaborative creation and intimate dialogues between human and more-than-human worlds and bodies. www.nanafrancisca.com
Maiken Vibe Bauer
VOICES – embodied knowledge of place
VOICES – embodied knowledge of place is a site specific sound installation and space for collective listening, based on the 119 bird species resting, migrating and thus belonging to the landscape of Islands Brygge in Copenhagen. VOICES is an invitation to a listening experience in the early hours from 05-09 am. Reversing the situation of the dawn chorus giving space and attentiveness to the singular voices of the birds played out in order of appearance. VOICES reflects on listening as an act of care, kinship and how we relate to the more-than-human world.
Maiken Vibe Bauer is a Copenhagen based sound artist and holds a MSc in Chemistry and Msc in Cultural Encounters. Her works range from multi-channel compositions, sound installations, listening spaces, performative sound walks to more documentary forms such as archives, registrants and sound essays. Maiken works in between the fields of science, sonic practices and sensory experience of the more-than-human, often taking point of departure in specific materialities, situations, places and spaces and how these changes evolve over time.
Ahoo Ahoo – Eiderducks and people exchanging cultures
The collaboration between eider ducks and humans has traditions dating back to the Viking Age. Despite a significant decline in eider ducks in Norway, the island of Selvær in Træna municipality has one of the largest colonies in the country. There is an unbroken tradition of facilitating the eider ducks nesting , by building houses along the island’s shoreline inviting the eider ducks there to nest. Artist and curator Eva Bakkeslett talks about her work in conveying this unique cultural exchange between people and eider ducks on Selvær.
Eva Bakkeslett is an artist, cultural activist and curator. Through her work, she conveys connections between nature and culture as a living organism. Communication across species boundaries, bacterial cultures and fermentation as a process and metaphor is central to her work and disseminated in the form of socially engaged and inclusive projects. Her work provides insight into poetic, sensory and transformative processes where new perspectives are revealed and materialized. Eva is curating The Conference of the Birds with Ulrika Jansson.
Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth aka Eyes as Big as Plates
Docks, down and ducks at sea
Knee-high in eiderdown, waist-deep in seaweed, rolling on white sandy beaches, skerries and most of Selvær’s basements, attics, kitchens and boathouses, the Norwegian-Finnish artist duo Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen share stories, field notes, reflections and images from their encounters with a tiny windswept island in the Træna archipelago, right at the polar circle on the northwest coast of Norway.
Hjorth & Ikonen have collaborated since 2011 on publications and projects including Eyes as Big as Plates (ongoing). Starting out in 2011 studying folkloric explanations to natural phenomenons, the ongoing collaborative series Eyes as Big as Plates has evolved into a continual search for modern human’s belonging to nature. With the goal of combining the powers of art, science and activism, the Norwegian-Finnish artist duo is increasingly portraying people who are actively engaged in the climate emergency discourse, exploring the potential of art to propel actionable system change.
Varelse / Værelse
Ulrika Jansson shares insights into the activities carried out in Frihamnen in Göteborg, a part of the former industrial harbor that has been developed from former bird-rich reeds and wetlands, to industrial environments and future residential areas. How can we talk about, and with, birds about their needs in the city and how can an acceptance be created for humans to make urban habitats that also benefit other species? Ulrika Jansson has created the framework for a participant-based context reading with invited artists, designers, specialists and the public about what co-existence between species in the city can mean. It has materialised in public events with the purpose to develop artistic methods and experiences to get the public in deeper contact with the place, the birds and themselves. From the field work in Frihamnen Ulrika Jansson has made the installation and sound work Varelse / Værelse with a point of departure in the teeming birdlife in the historical city reeds.
Ulrika Jansson’s artistic practice is based on the meeting between place, human and ecology. The artworks are multi-part in different media presented in audiovisual installations, often both indoors and outdoors. They are expressed as sculpture and stop-motion film, where plant material and natural phenomena are brought to life, into sound works with mind-expanding techniques that enable contact with more-than-human forms of consciousness. Jansson initiates and participates in interdisciplinary projects with the aim of using artistic approaches to make global ecological problems more tangible in a local context together with other disciplines.
Becoming Spirit Bird
What would happen if you let go of your human body and instead allowed yourself to transform into a bird – your inner Spirit Bird – is it even possible?
In Becoming Spirit Bird and Spirit Bird – Revival, Pernilla Ljungkvist creates participant-based performances where the audience are taken on an inner journey as a part of the activities in Frihamnen in Göteborg. Through somatic and esoteric practices, the body and mind are explored with the potential for a shift, and (possibly) a new kind of awareness.
Pernilla Ljungkvist’s work is conceptual with performance, text, sound and participatory processes as the main material, along with influences from various mind-expanding practices butoh, meditation and yoga. Her artistic practice moves in the borderland between social experiments, pseudo science and often examines existential issues based on personal stories.
Christoph Matt, MFA Eco-Social Design
A critical examination on the negotiation of space between birds and humans in Frihamnen in Göteborg with design methods and artistic practice. In a series of art and science walks in collaboration with experts from ornithology, zoology, psychology, and architecture, humans participated in a urban harbor area in interactive experiences and experiments via haptic design toolkits to reflect on sustainable relationships with empathy, understanding and care for birds as a endangered part of a human and more-than-human community.
Christoph Matt is an Austrian eco-social designer and founder of the internationally awarded Studio Matt. A nomadic studio for sustainable design with a focus on the living environment and social issues, currently based in Vienna. The projects and works are always dedicated to the interplay of planet earth, the human and more-than-human.
Rites of transformation at Koster islands and Österlen
The artist group Gylleboverket, aka Etta Säfve and Jona Elfdahl, examine a co-existence with place and land and how, by trying to sync up with the bird as beings, the possibilities to approach an extended ecological self that goes beyond time and space. Can birds, which with a few beats of its wings, seamlessly move across national borders, provide a key to a different relationship to belonging, to place, land and earth? The work in The Conference of the Birds is both a series of cinematic rituals, a rite of transformation and a social sculpture where they work with the local population in Koster islands on the Swedish west coast and Österlen in the south east – the two locations for the work.
Gylleboverket is an artist group that works with site-specific installations, performance, sound, video and ritual investigations. They work with built-up worlds, often of natural materials, myths, rites and stage installations. They also run the platform Gylleboverket – a platform for contemporary art, film and permaculture, where they explore artistic strategies and permaculture as a tool to understand what it is to be human and work in the world with care for the earth, the more-than-human and each other.