The Hen Undertaking by Lundgren+Lindqvist — BP&O
Text by Richard Baird.
Erik Berglin is a Stockholm-based contemporary artist. His work is based on his understanding that some people may find the art gallery uninviting and uncomfortable, and that the artworks on display require viewing to truly appreciate them. He himself said that he doesn't like 90% of the exhibitions he goes to, but loves the 10%. This is a clear indication of his work, which often brings the unexpected into urban space or uses modern technology to undermine the familiar. His work has a beauty and playfulness, an appealing aesthetic, but also an idea, an aha moment for those who want to look deeper.
Beauty and the unexpected play a central role in Berglin's The Bird Project. For the past twelve years, after having found birds from antique books by J.J. Audubon had studied, scanned pages from ornithological resources found in antique shops and libraries, and printed out birds at their actual size. He would spend time with a scalpel and scissors, carefully cutting them out, and then gluing them with wheat in urban contexts around the world to document them. From start to finish, a total of 4982 birds were covered with wheat in twelve cities on five continents. These have been summarized in a new book, "The Bird Project 2006-2017," designed by Lundgren + Lindqvist and published by ll 'Editions. This is a 208-page hardcover book with a size of 207 × 280 mm. It has 101 plates printed using a process that replaced the regular CMYK inks used in offset printing with fluorescent alternatives. The book is also available as a special edition from 30th Copies that have been divided into three sets of ten books. Each is presented in a fluorescent acrylic slipcase with an inkjet print signed and numbered by the artist.
The project is fascinating. The photorealism and natural size of birds and their urban contexts – the decontextualization of images and exotic birds alien to the built environment – are a burdened gesture, but they also have an aesthetic beauty, joy, and playfulness that is likely to be passed by passers-by make you think for a moment that a living exotic bird is in your peripheral vision. Color, detail and realism are central to the project, as is the context. Lundgren + Lindqvist recognizes this and channels it into the book through the intersection of collage and silver metallic block foil, as well as through the use of light inks and varnishes throughout the book.
Layouts of white space and black-colored captions opposite works of art with full bleeding enlarge the details present, not only in the birds, but also in the urban background. This background is a critical part of the artwork, whether it's grounding the bird through physical details (as above) or using the urban context to create contrasts or reveal synergies of shape and color. The works are graphic in nature and have been treated with a similar sensitivity. The revelation here, which is only really revealed in the compilation of works, is the opportunism of street art, its ability to see something in the moment and be able to make the most of it. This notion of “in the moment” is central to the experience of the passer-by unexpectedly catching the spot of a bird.
A fold-out poster and an index complete the book with a list of the Latin names of the 4982 birds and the addresses at which they were inserted. The format; White paper and black ink, a grid list over a single fold-out bezel, work well for highlighting the shear scale and scope of the project, and provide a visual counterpoint to the images they find. It is also a nice final provocation to seek work, to see it in the wild. Further work by Lundgren + Lindqvist on BP & O.
Design: Lundgren + Lindqvist. Opinion: Richard Baird. Fonts: TBC
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