Birdcage, 2023

single channel  video projection, colour, stereo sound, 1h 36 min

Birdcage is a furtherance of David Claerbout’s preoccupation with perception, cognition, time and temporality.

In Birdcage, an explosion shatters the tranquillity of a picturesque garden, conveying a sense of emergency in what could be a serene setting. The silent blast is captured with a long, muted shot, putting the viewer in a conflicted position to visually appreciate this scene of destruction.

Not without a hint to René Magritte’s Empire des lumières (The Empire of Lights), Birdcage explores how our perception actively composes the world we inhabit. Continuing the interests of earlier works, in which Claerbout shifted the principal role from foreground to background, Birdcage shifts the attention from the center to the periphery, from a sun-drenched, (f)estive explosion of nature, to a state of tension.
In line with his ideas about anti-anthropocentrism, the glossy starling and singing thrush are given a central role, highlighting the change in aura they undergo, from an index of lightness to an expressionist portrait of fear.

As the film ends, we witness the gradual exchange of the energetic qualities of violence and peace.
With Birdcage, David Claerbout explores how memory completes our visual perception, exposing that the human subject is, in essence, time.

Further readings

David Claerbout ©2024