Keep His Anger Still In Motion (2018)
Projection video loop, concrete, blown glass.
I have been working at the Museum of Southwestern Biology at the University of New Mexico, learning how to prepare birds for the avian specimen collection. Once a week, I spent the afternoon cutting birds apart to save tissue samples, skeletons, and skins. Every time it is a deeply demanding experience that leaves me with the intriguing ambivalence of sadness and disgust, mixed with a particular interest in the tactile awareness that I gain from this process. Skin akin to skin.
Specimen conservation treats bodies in a specific way; it implies the reconstruction of appearance of what it was, a process that focuses to preserve the outside, which detaches it from any idea of a life once-lived. The birds are emptied, assembled and shaped to look “good”.
My project Keep His Anger Still in Motion started as response to this experience in preparing the skins. I have become interested in mold making as a way to embody entangled ideas of death and loss. Molds are impressions of what is, or was, there. Originally focusing on making molds of the hearts of the birds, I quickly became interested in questioning the entire taxidermy process and its illusionary essence. I wanted to break the process, stopping and reversing it at the most dramatic point: when the bird is reduced to a mere empty skin. Instead of preserving the outside and the illusion of a prosperous organism, I documented through a silicon mold the emptiness that is left. The result is an uncanny shape, so different from our idea of the structure of a bird. It is a process that breaks down the specimen preparation and its focus on the appearance. Whatever was alive is now gone, a mold to represent what it is lost in death.
The work is composed of sixty copies of the original silicon mold I made from a found starling body, as sixty specimens were originally brought from Europe. Half of the copies are in blown glass, the other half in concrete. The two chosen materials are human made, yet composed of relatively simple, natural chemical elements; they talk of anthropogenic realities, as human-made are the consequences on the ecology of places. Together they create a tension between fragility and resistance, a tension that speaks of human relation with the environment and other species. A looped video of starling flying in murmuration complete and activated the installation.