This Weekend: Birds in the Park

New public art has landed in DC!

“Birds in the Park” is a touring project that involves the temporary installation of thirty to sixty porcelain birdlike forms on the ground.

Pecking around randomly, they might be taken for pigeons—carrier pigeons, that is. The message they bear is an exploration of the beautiful and the horrible side by side. Originally based on artist Christy Hengst‘s feelings of the war in Iraq, the questions posed by the birds are about the humanness of us all: how we are connected but also the ways in which that bond is disregarded.

For most citizens, and for me, personal experience of this war has been mainly through the media.  In fact I feel that the media had a large role in the U.S. public’s acceptance of the decision to go to war, and I’m looking closely at how the invasion of Iraq was “sold” to regular people.  Also, how discussions about the cold facts of war, weapons capabilities etc. can become detached from the human reality on the other end, creeping into everyday life as something normal, like birds in the park. -Christy Hengst

In addition to personal photography and images and text taken from the media, Hengst is collaborating with writer and Vietnam War veteran Tim Origer, English poet Henry Shukman, and Venezuelan photographer Maria de Las Casas for some of the material that appears on the birds.

Look for the Birds this weekend:
Thursday, March 18th: The National Mall (between 7th and 12th st.)
Friday, March 19th: Dupont Circle
Sunday, March 21st: Upper Senate Park (200 New Jersey Ave NW)


Hengst started the project in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where in the spring of 2009 the birds landed in about thirty locations; places like the farmer’s market, City Hall, various parks, cafes and libraries.  Later, the birds began to fly farther afield, landing at places along the coast of California, in Central Park, NY, in a sculpture garden in New Orleans, at a University Plaza in Germany, in front of Chartres Cathedral in France, and even migrating so far as the Galapagos islands.

Their flight pattern continues to develop, as do the pieces themselves.  As Hengst creates new birds, the flock evolves and grows.  New content is showing up, sometimes in response to places that the birds have been or will be visiting.  Text appears in several languages.   Images may foreshadow or remember aspects of some of the landing sites which are significant in the birds’ search for humanity.


About Art(202)

Since 1968, the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) has developed and promoted local artists, organizations and activities.
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