Waiting for Birds

May 22, 2011

Following up my previous post on those small and neat townhouses from around 1800, let me add that some more fine examples may be found in Vienna’s Kundmanngasse, just off Landstraßer Hauptstraße:

But if you walk a little further down Kundmanngasse you will actually find a batch of even smaller houses:

Ok, these houses, obviously, weren’t made for humans but for birds. Or maybe they weren’t… Matters are, in fact, slightly more complicated: While these are perfectly functional birdhouses, being actually used as nesting boxes isn’t their primary aim. Rather, they constitute an intriguing piece of contemporary art, Waiting for Birds IV by Austrian artist Josef Bernhardt (born 1960), which was installed in 2009:

As renowned art historian / curator Lucas Gehrmann has put it,

“Waiting for birds (…) is conceived primarily as an artistic intervention in nature and in living space, which in Vienna is above all an urban space. The artificial character of the installation (its red colour and geometrical and architectonic structure) creates in combination with the nesting boxes, which are potential homes for birds, an ambivalent relationship between constructed material and living nature, between logos and natura (…), which reflects our civilization’s disturbed relationship to nature.” *

Apart from its conceptual interest, I believe that, due to its aforementioned geometric nature, Waiting for Birds also has considerable aesthetic qualities, especially when sunlight and shadows come into play:

So I guess you could say that these houses were in many respects made for humans after all. And while they might potentially be used as nesting boxes, I certainly didn’t see any birds around them when I was there to take photos of the installation. But then, that’s hardly surprising, is it? I mean, what kind of creature would want to live in houses that all look exactly the same and are built that close together?

* The quote is from the website of KÖR [Kunst im öffentlichen Raum / Art in public space], an organization devoted to the promotion of contemporary art projects in Vienna’s public space.

One Response to “Waiting for Birds”

  1. josef bernhardt said

    hello, i´m the artist of this birdboxes, thank´s for your writing….


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: