Non-human animals have historically been mobilized and introduced into foreign spaces. Encountering birds in urban spaces signifies multiple histories and affects all at once: colonial, migratory, nationalistic and anthropogenic. The archived histories of bird introductions are similarly woven with contradictions.


To companion a companion is an exhibition of new work by Argentinean-Australian artist Fernando do Campo, that proposes the human as the companion species to birds. It proposes ‘companioning’ as an artistic strategy through painting and archiving, listening and non-verbal forms of responding, and plural histories. The CAT edition of this project includes four artworks:


365 Daily Bird Lists (January 3rd 2019 – January 2nd 2020) (2019 -), is a painting series which presents a year-long archive of every bird perceived by the artist (83 days are present at CAT). These daily sightings and listenings became a record of everyday urban multispecies encounters and, as is common in the artists’ painting practice in recent years, produce a data set and logic for constantly shifting approaches to painting with representation, abstraction and text co-existing.


Pishing in the archive (2021), is the culmination of a research relationship between the artist and the Green-wood Cemetery, Brooklyn and Brooklyn Museum, NY since 2015 investigating the history of house sparrows in the Americas. The artist documents forms of non-verbal communication with this history through pishing (a noise that human birdwatchers make in the field to lure birds. Sparrows respond in curiosity or alarm). The work suggesting a need for cross-species listening.


The archive of we (2021), is a performance lecture discussing the knotted histories we come across in urban multispecies encounters. The presentation focusses on the House Sparrow Society for Humans (HSSH) archives, an entity that the artist has been working with as an amateur volunteer historian since 2015. The lecture shares a box of slides and correspondence between the HSSH and the Abstract Expressionist American painter Barnett Newman in the 1950s.


Companion Companion Reader (2021 – ), will develop alongside the life of the project and expand on notions of companioning to the reader/viewer. Work from Will Lee, Erin Hortle, Zoë Sadokierski & Timo Rissanen, and Talia Linz will be published online through the Companion Companion Reader on the eve of the CAT presentation: www.companioncompanionreader.com

January 22, 2021
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