Author: Joan Pronnier
Special screening of “Birds of America” at UGC Les Halles
COAL is a partner in the evening screening of Birds of America, a documentary film by Jacques Loeuille, winner of the 2018 COAL Award. The film traces the journey of 19th-century naturalist Jean-Jacques Audubon, who went to paint all the birds of the New Continent.
In the presence of director Jacques Loeuille, winner of the 2018 COAL Prize, producer Ariane Métais, Philippe de Grissac, Vice President of the LPO France and Lauranne Germond and Joan Pronnier of COAL.
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The film tells a political counter-history of the United States through the extinct birds in the work of French naturalist and father of American ecology, Jean-Jacques Audubon.
Synopsis: In the early 19th century, a French painter, Jean-Jacques Audubon, travels to Louisiana to paint all the birds of the New World. The discovery of the great wilderness encouraged the utopia of a young nation that projected itself into a world of unprecedented beauty. Since then, the American dream has faded and Audubon’s work forms an archive of the pre-industrial sky. On the banks of the Mississippi, Birds of America finds the traces of these birds, now extinct, and reveals another history of the national myth.
Produced by Météores Films and ARTE Cinéma, the feature film project received the Louis Lumière Prize from the French Institute, as well as the support of the Centra National des Arts Plastiques (Image / Mouvement fund), and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is distributed by KMBO. Jacques Loeuille was the winner of the 2018 COAL Prize.
“I discovered Audubon while studying at the fine arts school in Nantes; the city where he grew up and drew his first birds on the banks of the Loire, before embarking for the United States to escape the Napoleonic wars. If his work has long remained a scientific reference, it is today a purely aesthetic object, but also a documentary treasure, since many of the painted creatures have disappeared.” – Jacques Loeuille
“What is particularly poignant, in our era of fake news and manipulation of scientific information, is that extinct birds are also the subjects of a whole production of images, of falsified or imaginary accounts: false testimonies, confusion of species, but also photo-montages and optical tricks. This aesthetic of “fake” through these faked or erroneous images of “bird watcher”, will be present in the installation and will dialogue with the paintings of Audubon. The extreme precision and “high definition” of Audubon’s images is an astonishing contrast, while current images of birds are so poor, so low definition, in comparison. Should we see this as a vanity of technique and technology?” – Jacques Loeuille
“To compensate for these disappearances, the oil companies invested, at the time of the reconstruction of the city of New Orleans after Katrina, in a mega-zoo and aquarium: Audubon zoo and Audubon aquarium of the America.
The figure of Audubon has become a valuable symbol for anyone who wants to “green” their own image at a lower cost. Audubon zoo recreates the “natural settings” of the “Birds of America” plates where one can observe – among other things – a turtle-dove jumping from one plastic branch to another; the bird lives this existence in a very shallow glass cage whose surface corresponds to Audubon’s drawing sheet: a double elephant folio, that is to say 98 by 76 centimeters! Further on, in the Audubon Aquarium of America, one can observe a strange decor: sharks circulate between the underwater frames of fake oil platforms. The patrons of this place, dedicated to the education of children, are BP, Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil.” – Jacques Loeuille
“The City of New York decided to take an artistic action to raise awareness of the current ravages of Washington’s environmental policies by commissioning artist Nicolas Holiber to create a series of sculptures inspired by endangered Audubon birds. I met with him in the large studio he occupies in Brooklyn, where he carves these birds by assembling pieces of wood. In April 2019, twelve sculptures of endangered birds will be installed along Broadway from the heart of the city in front of Lincoln Center at 67th Street to the Audubon Parc Historic District in Washington Heights at 168th Street. They will remain there until the winter of 2020. The lack of treatment of the salvaged wood will put the sculptures to a severe test; the process of degradation by the climate is an integral part of the work.” – Jacques LoeuilleLes Murs d’Audubon in Europe
LES MURS D’AUDUBON IN EUROPE
The European cooperation network Art Climate Transition, of which COAL is a part, has launched a campaign that deploys Audubon Walls across Europe: “Your birds, Our birds”. By spreading Audubon Walls across Europe, the network is raising awareness about the disappearance of many European bird species due to the sixth mass extinction.
In September 2021, Art Climate Transition, COAL and Planète Émergences inaugurated a mural in Marseille on the occasion of the 2021 IUCN World Conservation Congress. This mural inaugurated the Audubon Walls movement in France.
To build on this achievement, ACT has launched a campaign to spread Audubon Walls across Europe: “Your birds, Our birds. By spreading Audubon Walls across Europe, the network is raising awareness about the loss of many European bird species due to the sixth mass extinction.
AN INVITATION TO ACT
One year ago, COAL inaugurated the Marseille mural to raise awareness on the loss of local birds’ biodiversity, by the Greek artist Fikos, at the time of the IUCN World Conservation Congress. One year later, this initiative is reverberating across Europe, with all ACT partners implementing the dissemination project Your Birds, Our Birds, aiming at raising awareness of the disappearance of many European bird species due to the sixth mass extinction. Led by ACT members, the “Your Birds, Our Birds” campaign invites and enables a local community to create a mural, either through a call for projects or through an art commission.
ACT: A EUROPEAN COOPERATION NETWORK
ACT is a European cooperation project on ecology, climate change and social transition. In an era of climate disruption, mass extinctions and increasing inequality, ACT unites forces around a project full of hope. By combining global perspectives with local opportunities, ACT invites us to act (ACT).
At the source of this project with a European scope, there are 10 cultural structures from 10 European countries working in the fields of performance and visual arts. ACT is a project supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe program until 2024.
More information on the ACT (Art Climate Transition) project available at: www.artclimatetransition.eu