I have attended an exciting event in Whitechapel Gallery as part of the Ask the Wild project in response to the currently running Mark Dion exhibition. The panel consisted of two artists, who I greatly admire, Marcus Coates and Fiona MacDonald accompanied by three ornithologists.

The event utilized a very innovative and stimulative format. After a brief introduction into the participants and the project, the talk was led by audience questions. The questions could relate to anything, be it personal, political, or emotional, with the only exception being questions about birds. The answers arrived from a bird point of view, at least as much as a human deeply involved with them can fathom. The perspective of the “other” offered a fresh look on current issues and human behavior through the expert knowledge of the panel and through the openness of the audience to learn from the wild, by erasing or at least  enfeebling the rigid separation between nature and culture.

Ask the Birds was a truly positive experience, with a relaxed attitude and lots of laughter. It brought the power of story telling and sharing into the institutional and theoretical space of lectures and artist’s talks; taking on an organic form through the succession of answers triggered by each of the panelists deep knowledge and love of the subject.

I was inspired by many of the behavioral patterns of our feathered cohabitants and the obvious emotional and sensory connections presented throughout the talk. Ask the Birds, gave me ideas and reassured me in my positions.

Highly recommend these events to anyone:

http://www.askthewild.net/

 

Monika Tobel