NATURE OF JUSTICE: ON THE BIRDS
A contemporary art exhibition in conjunction with The Birds
Artists Machine Dazzle, Louise Lawler, Sofia Stevi and Theo Triantafyllidis present works that share the themes of the play, such as the failure of democracy, corruption and the nature of beauty. Installed in the garden and foyer of the theater, these artists bring their own, clear, singular voices from Greece and the United States, offering alternative dimensions to the performance of The Birds, and broadening the public and cultural dialogue initiated by the production.
New work by Machine Dazzle, 2018
Mixed media, found materials
Louise Lawler, Birdcalls, 1972–81
New work by Sofia Stevi, Anti-gravity fellas, 2018
Ink, acrylic on fabric
Theo Triantafyllidis, Prometheus, 2017
Video, custom software, live-simulation HDTV, gaming PC
A Note from the Associate Curator of Visual Arts, Mari Spirito
Nature of Justice: On The Birds is a contemporary art exhibition commissioned by the Onassis Cultural Center New York and accompanying Nikos Karathanos’s production of The Birds at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Machine Dazzle, Louise Lawler, Sofia Stevi and Theo Triantafyllidis present works that share the themes of the play, such as the failure of democracy, corruption and the nature of beauty. Installed in the garden and foyer of the theater, these artists bring their own, clear, singular voices from Greece and the United States, offering alternative dimensions to the performance of The Birds, and broadening the public and cultural dialogue initiated by the production.
Louise Lawler’s Birdcalls (1972–81), is an audio work of squawking and crying out the names of the prominent white-male artists of the 1970s in New York City, such as Vito Acconci, Francesco Clemente and Julian Schnabel, in the manner of birdcalls. Birdcalls draws attention to the gender imbalance that was, and still is, rampant and unjust. This work not only brings to mind images of birds—the protagonists of Aristophanes’ The Birds—it also conjures the inequities of their, and our, ongoing struggles. Similarly, a live-simulation video by Theo Triantafyllidis, Prometheus (2017), expands on the absurdity of human behavior. His digital representation of the never-ending cycle of greed and self-serving conduct is played out by a pigeon in aggressive pursuit of a pretzel. Triantafyllidis is an emerging Greek artist who is intimately acquainted with The Birds as well as contemporary conditions in Athens and elsewhere. This work is based on the computer’s archiving algorithm and gives a “physical presence to digital information.” The artist’s live simulations are endlessly variable through a continually changing, augmented space.
Sofia Stevi’s newly commissioned painting Untitled (2018), hangs in the foyer, resembling a protest banner with indecipherable calligraphic text, as well as abstracted figures. On this large-scale, four-by-four-meter painting, Stevi, a Greek artist, presents her own take on Aristophanes’ Birds, and combines it with her recent experiences at home in recent years. Her work explores the dissonance between the inherent needs for governance and independence in human nature. Is it natural for people to be corrupt and brutal? What can be considered as “harmonious” in nature? The second suspended artwork in the theater’s foyer is a sculpture by Machine Dazzle, whose work here is inspired by the reverie of Aristophanes’ The Birds, as well as the framework of this festival, which revolves around the definition of “party,” a word that describes a social gathering but is also representative of a divisive system of political nature. The contained figure on view was created in reference to and in consideration of our partnership with the Stella Adler Studio, linking The Birds to incarceration and investigating further fissures in our humanity. In Nikos Karathanos’s contemporary adaptation of The Birds, humans play birds, which in turn are stand-ins for humans behaving like animals. The works in “Nature of Justice: On The Birds” offer abstract interpretations, which may be the most accurate representation of the nature of humanity.
Mari Spirito is Founding Director and Curator of Protocinema, realizing site-aware exhibitions in the world since 2011.