The Most Beautiful Bird of Our Time

The Most Beautiful Bird of Our Time, 1997

installative performance, emptied room, row of tables, 1 living bird, 5-6 performers, visitors, instant camera, bleach
dimensions variable, duration of 6 hours

performed at:
ENSBA, Paris, 1997

As I went to the studio one morning, I noticed someone sitting behind the window of the door, someone who was apparently watching me. A guardian! From the inside of the studio came a lot of light. Normally, I work there with my colleagues. Some steps lead to the studio. The entire space was empty, everything was stowed away on a wall behind boards, only our naked tables were still there (without chairs) in a row crossing the space. The floor was shiny clean and there was a penetrant smell of disinfectant. In a corner near the entry was a puddle of urine. I was not alone. I noticed that, apart from the guardian, there were still a handful of other people whom I didn’t know, and who like him were wearing the same green-blue clothes. „What are you doing here? Is this a performance? Are you allowed to speak?“ But they were also speaking, however. They were entirely natural, were eating their sandwiches, were looking upwards, … and nevertheless, in these circumstances, I don’t know if I can use the word ‚natural‘ here. It doesn’t seem to fit what I actually saw. Their presence astonished me. What made them behave this way? Like lightning I imagined I was in the house of a six-headed monster, or an intruder amongst martians. I also noticed a real bird who was flying around in the studio. It wasn’t an exotic bird, but one from our region (a black one), as if by mistake it had flown through one of the panes. The occupants spent a lot of time with the bird, by watching it and by shouting at it. Within each stroke of its wings was hidden one of their sights. The bird and they seemed to be attached to the same destiny. The bird was not allowed to escape. This was what the guardian was for, I believe. (…) After that day the bird and the occupants had disappeared.

a visitor

video version shown in:
“Robert Estermann”, Galerie du Jour agnès b., Paris, France (2002, solo show)
text version shown in:
“Affaire de Coeur 5 – The most beautiful bird of our time”, Lee Eugean Gallery, Seoul, South Korea (2019)

see also:
room and anteroom / all desires / I have forgotten your name, 2000