C h r i s t y H e n g s t -- b i r d s i n t h e p a r k
“birds in the park” is a traveling public art project which flew 2008-2012. Both event and exhibition, it involved a flock of porcelain birds which appeared in the early morning hours at a particular location, were available for interaction during the day, and disappeared by nightfall. The birds had cobalt images and text silk-screened and fired onto them, investigating aspects of humanity, with a focus on war and peace.
With their initial landings in Santa Fe, the birds have flown to over sixty locations, including Central Park and the United Nations Headquarters in NY; beaches along the coast of California; a sculpture garden in New Orleans; the National Mall and the Capitol in Washington DC; Chartres Cathedral in France; Peenemünde, Germany; the weapons lab town of Los Alamos, New Mexico; the Netherlands; Cuenca, Ecuador; and even migrated as far as the Galapagos Islands.
At first sight, the sculptures are often mistaken for oddly still pigeons. They are, in a sense, carrier pigeons, as the forms carry images and text on their backs. The message they bear is an exploration of the beautiful and the horrible side by side. The content originated with the shock and dismay I felt as the US government began its second war with Iraq, and expanded to consider the phenomenon of war in general. The questions posed by the birds are about the humanness of us all, how we are all connected, and the unthinkable ways in which that bond is disregarded.
The specific material on the birds includes images of children playing, love letters, poetry, recipes and prose, layered with newspaper articles and photographs of the lead-up to and beginning of the current Iraq war, as well as other war-related documents.
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