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 Loeuille