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We Move As A Murmuration

Coming on March 23rd the exhibition “We Move As A Murmuration” brings to Timespan thirteen local and international artists. Drawing inspiration from bird flocks to reflect on the entangled relationships between humans and birds, the exhibition proposes approaches of kinship, liberation, and collective care. The exhibition features the work of artists adrienne maree brown, Chuan Lun Wu, Disarming Design from Palestine, Edwyn Collins, Hanna Tuulikki, J. Drew Lanham, Joan Ross, Khaled Jarrar, Mamadou Tall Diedhiou, Penny Woodley, Petrit Halilaj, Sethembile Msezane, and Un/Nature.

Following the natural movement of murmurations, co-curators Naoko Mabon and Timespan’s director Giulia Gregnanin have developed an exhibition design that in July will “swirl” and transform with new artworks and installation arrangements to bring fresh perspectives to audiences and emphasise the themes of change and movement part of the exhibition.

Joan Ross, Houston, we have a problem, 2021 Courtesy of the artist and N.Smith Gallery, Sydney. 

The research project We Move As A Murmuration is the second phase of Coastal Commons: Timespan’s long-term arts and heritage programme. Driven by the devastation of the recent outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, commonly known as bird flu, We Move As A Murmuration delves into the entangled issues related to birds. Curated by Timespan and the freelance curator Naoko Mabon, the project encompasses a series of research activities, public events and an art exhibition. Collaborating with community members, scientists, activists, artists and practitioners in Helmsdale and beyond, We Move As A Murmuration’s timeline sympathises with the migration cycle of birds, commencing gently in autumn 2023 when winter visitors return to our shores, with an exhibition happening in spring 2024, a season when summer visitors come back again. 

Drawing inspiration from murmuration (a large flock of birds swooping and swirling in unison) as a metaphor for collective movement and unity, the project looks at the oppression, domination and alienation of nature under capitalist, colonial, and modernist forces, addressing environmental and social justice. By moving as a murmuration, the project suggests that “the environment is us”, aiming to collectively overcome the separation between humans and nature, and challenge the anthropocentric hierarchy among species.

Advocating for the liberation of all, without leaving anyone behind, We Move As A Murmuration traverses intersecting issues including the designation of more-than-human species as sacrifice zones in extractive capitalism. It looks into the escalating disruption of birds’ migrations due to climate crisis, and the dominance of a white-western-male-heterosexist and settler colonialist approach to ornithology that used to both aestheticise, classify and master them (through taxonomy and taxidermy). It investigates the interpretation of birds as a metaphor of freedom and resistance from oppressed people. Finally, it explores the connection between bird flu and the commodification of the environment through intensive poultry farming, global trade and habitat destruction. 

Browse some of the activities part of We Move As A Murmuration

We Move As A Murmuration (Exhibition)

Coming Up March 23rd

Build a Bird Box Workshop

November 17th 2023

The Earth Writes Back

September 30th 2023

Nature Activities with the RSPB

September 9th 2023

Stay tuned: more information, and events will follow!

We Move As A Murmuration is part of Coastal Commons: Beyond North Sea Extractivism, a long-term heritage and art programme at Timespan.