I am not prepared for what I am going to see when I enter the Corkin Gallery in Toronto. At first glance, I only see photographs of little strange birds facing downwards as if falling out of the sky. Some look as if they are asleep, but others are charred beyond recognition. I am starting to understand that I am looking at something very tragic, captured as a reminder or warning by photographer Thaddeus Holownia. But what exactly is it?
The Canaport bird kill exhibition shows many lingering images. ‘A fast shutter for slow violence’, journalist Geordie Miller called the art of Canadian photographer Thaddeus Holownia, who took pictures of some 200 creatures killed by human error. “Drawn to a deadly light on a foggy night, songbirds begin to fall from the sky. By evening’s end, more than 7,500 are rendered flightless, lifeless. Twenty-six species of songbirds felled by one flame, a flare from the natural gas burn-off at the Canaport Liquefied natural Gas terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick, September 13th, 2013.”
The disastrous event is represented on a 17-foot-high scroll – called Icarus, Falling of Birds (2016) – and several individual photographs. The viewer cannot help but be affected by their immediacy and immensity. I left the gallery with a sense of sadness and discomfort, but also a genuine interest in the work of Thaddeus Holownia, who manages to artistically capture dramatic urgent issues in a very unique way.
Click here for the whole story and article by Geordie Miller (Canadian Art, Feb 2017).
“The work of Thaddeus Holownia deals with how how humanity changes landscape,
how the forces of nature mould human structures.
His work calls attention to various ecological and political issues;
and his art practice conveys these precarious relationships.”
(Corkin Gallery, Toronto)
Corkin Gallery, Toronto