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WHy look at birds

Director's Message

A bird in the hand features a selection of work from the collection and archive of The Institute of Critical Zoologists.

Since antiquity, people have enjoyed looking at birds. The Greeks saw them as divine messengers and representations of our yearnings for a higher order of freedom.

But things have changed. Recently, a few thousand birds fell from the sky in Arkansas, America. People wondered if it was possible that humans have done something, unknowingly, to kill the birds. Was it pollution, secret government tests or an alien invasion? Conspiracy theories abound on the Internet but there are no real answers.

It seems that we have really arrived at the time of the Anthropocene, a recently coined term to mark a new epoch where human activities have a significant impact on the Earth’s ecosystem. We are beginning to pay more attention to what nature has to say to us, decoding its every phenomenon like what cavemen were doing in the caves of Lascaux. The weather is changing and the birds have a new song for us. Can we embrace our current position and relationship with nature?

The works in A bird in the hand express interconnected ideas and systems in a world where birds are increasingly observed, documented, collected and kept by humans. This interdisciplinary exhibition aims to inspire us to reconsider our relationship with nature. After the recent emphasis on ecological change and environmental awareness, could the focus now shift to new parameters?

In today's world, animals are extremely attractive. Birds are perhaps both the most watched and one of the most frequently eaten animals on our planet. Everyone has an opinion on animals. They have became a focal point of debates over a 'proper' relationship between humankind and nature, and over definitions of humanity itself.

Naoko Noguchi
Director of Social Programmes
The Institute of Critical Zoologists





Copyright 2011, Institute of Critical Zoologists