The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston examines politically-charged issues associated with conservation, theft and extinction in nature and the arts this summer with Henrik Håkansson (June 30 through September 17, 2006), a contemporary exhibition of sight and sound by Swedish multi-media artist and 2003 Artist-in-Residence Henrik Hakansson. The provocative series of visual and sound installations explore the story of the Brazilian Spix's Macaw and its extinction in the wild through an artist‚s lens. The work also draws parallels between the loss of a species through illegal poaching and collecting practices and the loss of art through theft or the passage of time.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a rare specimen of the Spix's Macaw itself, on loan from Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology and never before displayed outside their private collection. Today, there exist only 30-60 known living Spix's Macaws in the world - all in private collections. Additional sight and sound installations by the artist (details still to be confirmed) will round out the show.
In addition to the global relevance of its themes, Henrik Håkansson has international thematic and concurrent artist connections to exhibitions in Paris and London. Håkansson‚s first solo U.S. museum exhibition, the work is also the first in a series of planned exhibitions by Håkansson centering on the Spix‚s Macaw and the issues that predicated its extinction throughout Europe (details to come as available). On view concurrently in Paris is Tropico-Végétal, an important group show at the Palais de Tokyo (June 8-August 27, 2006; www.palaisdetokyo.com) comprising an imagined tropical landscape through five artists‚ perspectives ˆ including Håkansson's "A travers bois pour trouver la forêt". ("Through the woods to find the forest"). British installation artist Dan Harvey further explores the work's themes in a lecture focusing on "The Art of Climate Change" (presented July 12th, 12:00 noon) in association with his current project, Stranded, an installation of crystallized whale bones presented as part of "The Ship," a group exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London (June 3-September 3, 2006). The former Gardner Museum Artist-In-Residence Dan Harvey and collaborator Heather Ackroyd presented an exhibition of original grass photographs in Presence at the Gardner Museum in 2002.
I encourage you to consider a feature article or review of the exhibition, a profile on the artist within the context of this (and/or concurrent related exhibitions - i.e., "Tropico- Végétal" at Paris‚ Palais de Tokyo) and/or a look at the broader connections between art, nature and science - including the science or political associated with the loss of a species and the Spix's Macaw, specifically.
Håkansson arrives in Boston this coming Monday (June 23) - and available to interview in person about the work, its themes and/or concurrent projects through the public opening on June 30 and via the phone throughout the run of the show. Gardner Museum Contemporary Curator Pieranna Cavalchini is also available to speak with about the project, its evolution and/or connections between theft in the natural and art worlds. Experts in the field of ornithology at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology and/or visiting lecturers including Dan Harvey can also be made available to speak further about the Spix's Macaw on view and/or the larger science and political issues predicating its extinction in the wild.
Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology (Cyanopsitta spixii),
2005. © Henrik Håkansson