Work > We ate the Birds

We Ate the Birds - A Multidisciplinary Project Curated by Seher Naveed
Koel Gallery, Karachi, 2017

Text by Seher Naveed
Pakistan is the eighth most vulnerable country in the world affected by climate change. With variations in weather patterns and unplanned development, its coastal areas are the most threatened. This climate and environmental degradation has become even more obvious recently with the substantial decline in the influx of migratory birds. The exhibition highlights the severity of the destruction our ecosystem faces; and aims to draw attention to the connection between our environment and urban planning through understanding the importance of birds and bird conservation.
Birds play a crucial role in the overarching functionality of our ecosystems. With major cities in Pakistan witnessing what many would consider "urban development", it becomes imperative to imagine what the ravaged landscapes might look like from a bird's-eye view. These development projects are met with enthusiasm by the government, which furthers the developer's interests by chopping down more trees, forests of mangroves, and reclaiming wetlands to make room for concrete. It does not stop there. Permits for hunting endangered bird species such as the Houbara Bustard are issued blatantly, leading to a rapid decline in their numbers. Apart from the environmental and geo-political angle, this project pays close attention to the significance of birds in South Asian culture and current affairs: for example, parrots used by street fortunetellers, rooster fights which are considered a sport, and the accusation that pigeons are sent for cross border espionage.
"We Ate the Birds" is inspired by the writings of Margaret Atwood. The aim of the exhibition is to emphasise the importance of thinking through and engaging with birds, in the hope that this dialogue will help radicalise and make critical our interaction with the landscape. The exhibition brings together works by artists who explore the complex relationship between humans and birds through ecological, personal, symbolic, and mythical interpretations.

1 Atwood, Margaret. The Tent. London: Bloomsbury, 2006. Eating the Birds. Pg. 127