As a teenager growing up in Nottingham in the bleak 1970’s, I often found solace in my mother’s small aviary filled with curious and chirping Orange Cheeked Waxbills and Zebra Finches poking their beaks into my pockets. These colorful, fragile birds had a knack of weaning a smile. And so it was again, albeit in another city and an aviary on an entirely different scale, 40 years down the road. As Copenhagen’s shoppers took to the streets in one last frenzied crusade, I entered a favorite haven, the Copenhagen Contemporary in search of some seasonal joy. Last month the CC became one exhibition richer, with the French artist and composer, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s compelling installation, from here to ear v.21. The installation spanning 600m², evokes a distant Nordic coastal landscape of sand and lyme grass with 17 electrical guitars marooned horizontally, like telegraph wires. The installation comes to life with 88 Zebra Finches flying freely, landing on the strings of the guitars playing their own riff. A concert of unpredictable playfulness where the audience has an integral role, as the birds react to any movement in the exhibition space.
Céleste Boursier-Mougenot‘s installation unifies a visual experience with natures sporadic interaction producing soundscapes that engage and bond. At the exhibition, I met a colleague with his 7-year-old son, Magnus. I asked Magnus what he thought. Considering his response thoughtfully, he responded robustly, “Awesome”. I couldn’t agree more. As Céleste Boursier-Mougenot once said, “There is music to be revealed in every object, image or place.” The 88 Zebra Finches will be performing until the 5th. March 2017 and then returned to their owner in Jutland.
Credits: Céleste Boursier-Mougenot from here to ear 2016. Photos: Anders Sune Berg