‘BIrds of Paradise’

The effect of Biblical cosmology on the way we perceive animals is tremendous. We think that nature is here to serve us and it’s our property - this sort of thinking through out hundreds of years resulted in our detachment from nature as well as our perseption of animals that disregards their sentience.

‘Birds of Paradise’ were created during my research trip to a bird sanctuary. I volunteered there cleaning cages, feeding feathered patients and chatting with a couple of ravens. At one point I was offered an opportunity to photograph those less fortuned. It was an intense experience that made me realised the message I want to covey in my work. From then on I was often coming back to a memory from my childhood when I asked a nun in kindergarden if animals go to heaven. She replied ‘no, because they do not have souls’. At that moment I knew that even though I was extreemly religious I did not agree with Church’s view on nature and its purpose. 

‘Birds of Paradise’ aren’t just dead birds and other creatures. There are there to confront us with their and our own fragility. The almost complete absence of the human figure was crucial to my studies, as I was trying to capture my subjects without manipulating them. Their frozen bodies were actually the ones in control. They provided the forms and the compositions and shapes. I was in no position to change them in any way. In comparison, the series opens a photograph of a bat stretched by elderly human hands. It doesn’t have this feeling of peace and freedom as the rest and it seems like the animal is physically forced onto the display in front of the camera lens. Berlinde de Bruyckere when describing her sculptural practice she talks of ‘surfaces as containers of souls’. I think of those little creatures as vessels of souls that departed to the unknown. With this photographic series I want to challenge others and start a conversation about the way we perceive nature and ourselves in it.