• Bird [1] bis

    Dimension: 7.2” x 9.4” x 1.1”
    Technique: iron sculpture
    Year: 2017

  • Bird [1]

    Dimension: 29.9” x 22”
    Technique: photography
    Year: 2018

  • Bird [2] bis

    Dimension: 7.2” x 9.4” x 1.1”
    Technique: iron sculpture
    Year: 2017

  • Bird [2]

    Dimension: 29.9” x 22”
    Technique: photography
    Year: 2018

  • Bird [69] bis

    Dimension: 7.2” x 9.4” x 1.1”
    Technique: iron sculpture

  • Bird [69]

    Dimension: 29.9” x 22”
    Technique: photography
    Year: 2018

  • Bird [98] bis

    Dimension: 7.2” x 9.4” x 1.1”
    Technique: iron sculpture
    Year: 2017

  • Bird [98]

    Dimension: 29.9” x 22”
    Technique: photography
    Year: 2018

  • Bird [21] bis

    Dimension: 7.2” x 9.4” x 1.1”
    Technique: iron sculpture
    Year: 2017

  • Bird [21]

    Dimension: 29.9” x 22”
    Technique: photography
    Year: 2018

  • Bird [65] bis

    Dimension: 7.2” x 9.4” x 1.1”
    Technique: iron sculpture
    Year: 2017

  • Bird [65]

    Dimension: 29.9” x 22”
    Technique: photography
    Year: 2018

BIRDS WITHOUT SKY

I found these pigeons by chance. On March 24th 2015, I was walking across the city center of Bogotá and arrived at Bolívar Square, the main square of the capital of Colombia and an urban icon, by coincidence.

I was curious about the street photographers filling the tourists’ hands with corn grains, encouraging them to open their arms like scarecrows and taking pictures of them framed by the institutional buildings of the city. It was a surreal scene. But beyond the reflection of this particular photographic practice, what really interested me were the pigeons themselves, so I started visiting the square on a regular basis to observe them. I decided that I wanted to work with the pigeons in a formal way, so I applied for permission to find out, according to ANLA, that I did not need any formal authorization because they are an invasive specie and in Colombia there is no regulation for their handling. The pigeon (or Columba Livia) is a bird that does not migrate, only flies to the nest. They live approximately up to seven years, mate for life and usually only lay two eggs.

During my visits, besides the birds, I met with some of the street-photographers, the corn grains sellers, the street vendors, the beggars and some homeless. All of them have settled permanently in the square.

The street-photographers earn their income from the snapshots they take of tourists with the pigeons, the pigeons are fed corn-grains by the photographers; the corn-grain sellers make their living of the corn they sell to the photographers; the street vendors get their profits of selling snacks to everyone else; whereas the homeless and beggars live off the money that passers-by and tourists give them. When I understood the symbiotic system that prevails in Bolivar Square, I decided to get more involved with the environment. That’s how I met José and Erika.  We worked as a team marking the pigeons and logging the photographic record. José is a street-photographer, son of another street-photographer. Erika, his wife and his mother are corn-grains sellers. His parents have worked all their lives in this site.

The coincidences with the pigeon’s behavior are impressive; the birds will never emigrate, they settle down with their single partner and stay there. Then the cycle is replicated by their offspring. Bolívar Square is the best example of something that in biology is known as Mutualism: in a given environment several species not only coexist and collaborate indirectly to benefit each other but help each other out. All of this is an example of sustainability.

There is also a symbolism in the particular condition of the modus vivendi of these pigeons. They are equipped with all the features to fly away, even to places located at a great distance, but instead they stay anchored to this known environment, imprisoned by a dynamic that sustains them, but at the same time keeps them in captivity. The pigeons of Bolivar Square embodied a great paradox.

No one is more immovable than one who doesn’t find or has a reason to move.