Related to the Birds of Paradise, The Bower Birds of North Eastern Australia and Papua New Guinea also have highly cultured mating rituals. Males of these species make a nest-like yet useless architectural structure and decorate it with colourful found objects in the vicinity. Females inspect the displays in different bowers and select their mates. In this case, as in the case of the Birds of Paradise, their evolutionary fitness is not dependant upon the bird's ability to provide for or protect their offspring, but rather on their aesthetic judgement. This raises all kinds of questions about the purpose of art in our society. At the White Rabbit Art Festival in 2011, I created a human-scale bower and within it curated an exhibition of found objects and art objects contributed by other artists participating in the residency associated with festival. During the public event, I gave a guided ornithological hike and lecture under the guise of official ornithologist in residence, an excerpt of which you can listen to below.
Take Me to Paradise
In an attempt to better understand my position in my culture's mating rituals, I looked to the mating rituals of a family of birds. The Birds of Paradise of Papua New Guinea, made famous through David Attenborough's research and documentary film work with the BBC, are widely know for their specialized mating rituals. Males of each species of the Birds of Paradise have evolved decadent plumage to show off in a dance performed for the females of the species. Females inspect the dancers' performances and select a mate based on their display. For Take Me to Paradise, (2009) I made two Bird of Paradise costumes for my self and a male friend. We went on a pub crawl in downtown Halifax dancing for the ladies present at each club. Research for this project also inspired Honeymoon Suite, the sequel to this project.