The other week I went to the School Of The Art Institute's MFA show. Aside from a couple photographs and some paintings, the only thing that blew my mind was this piece by Jinsu Han. It was comprised of a big milky white mess on the floor which was surrounded by small motors that rotated small wheels which churned the viscous puddle with feathers attached to sticks. The twenty or so motors rotated at various speeds while the feathers slowly threshed a black color into the ink. Thankfully I saw this piece when the gallery was empty as the minute motor sounds added to the hypnotic, frenetic and ridiculous quality of the installation. Adding to the animated fanfare was a mold of a decapitated pigeon head, pathetic on its side, with eyes that lit up.
I have a love/hate relationship to pigeons- which is why I loved this piece. Pigeons supply me with endless hours of entertainment with their vacant eyes and plodding, almost robotic, movements. To watch a flock of them quibble over a piece of bread is comedy gold, not to mention watching one trying to get the last Cheeto out of a cellophane bag. Yet- they are filthy...flying rats as they say.
Years ago I was living in a shitty Humboldt Park apartment that had one of those shafts in between buildings that let sunlight enter from the side...of course these shafts are always inhabited by pigeons cooing all day and night long. The bottom of the shaft, depending on how good or bad of a landlord you have, is always coated with a hard layer of black and white pigeon shit. We also had no screens on the windows. This gave one particularly bold pigeon the license to create a nest on our window sill. My roommate and I thought it was cute- especially the pathetic nest that the pigeon built out of used bottle-rocket sticks. When the bird finally layed the eggs, my roommate drew a happy face on one, a sad face on the other.
When the eggs finally hatched, we watched in fascination. But what we didn't realize was how disgusting the pigeon nurturing process could be! Essentially, the ramshackle nest of bottle-rocket sticks is built out by mother and children shitting in it and nestling down in it, pushing their waste outwards until their home is a giant fortification of hard shit. This process is exactly what Jinsu Han's piece reminded me of.
Eventually, the birds grew and would not shut the fuck up and soon they were brave enough to venture off the sill. My roommate came down with an awful sickness, probably from the pigeon shit, and was confined to the couch, next to the shit-nest, unable to get up for a few days. During his hallucinatory sickness, he could take no more of the squawking baby birds...he took a rolled up newspaper and flicked them off the sill. He told me he heard two very satisfying splats on the shit encrusted ground below. (btw- this is coming from someone who loves animals)
Currently, I live in a similar apartment with a pigeon infested light shaft. I noticed the other day that there is a new nest with eggs. I'm not sure if I should crawl into the space and smash the eggs. I don't think I can do it...but I don't think I can take the irritating and gross situation again. Anyone want to come over and smash some pigeon eggs for me?
For more pigeon fun- see Lucas' post on poisoning pigeons (with mp3s!).