Vintage songs such as Jewel Akens's “The Birds and the Bees" and Cole Porter's “Let's Do it (Let's Fall in Love)" refer to “the birds and the bees" as a euphemism for love and sex. This well-used figure of speech seems to have lost potency, however, now that these creatures are known more for their disappearance from our landscape than their prolific reproduction.
This exhibition aims to provide a refresher on the various ways avian and apian characteristics are being employed by contemporary artists. Rather than serving as a coy allusion to sex, artists are now engaging with birds and bees to explore ideas as diverse as ecology, architecture, migration, and the tenuous boundaries between nature and culture. In the utmost spirit of collaboration, a few have joined forces with their winged friends to create beautiful works of process and chance, lending new metaphorical precision to once-exhausted imagery.
Apparent in this exhibition is an emphatic materialism that appeals to all of our senses. Playful interceptions—adjustment of scale, reinvention of myths and the alteration of ordinary objects to imaginative ends—initiate a variety of new readings on familiar tropes. Also evident are philosophical inquiries around cooperation, social determinism and the important role these endangered pollinators play in our ecosystem.
These creative reflections on the lives of birds and bees encourage a shift in how we view the natural world—and, by extension, ourselves—ultimately leading us back to contemplation of the human condition.
Céleste Boursier-Mougenot/Ariane Michel, Wendy Coburn, Aganetha Dyck, Karen Knorr, Kristiina Lahde, Neeta Madahar, Adam Makarenko, Liz Magor, Penelope Stewart