Oilbird with Nestling, 2021

performance with bird costume (reed, metal net, paper, textile, paper clay) baby bird, fruit and switches and looped video (6’13)

Oilbird with Nestling is performed with a bird costume featuring large black eyes, a dry tongue and a plumage made from the brown flower heads of common reed plants. The bird feeds its nestling with fruits, helps it to cough up peel and seeds and lulls it to sleep. It seems to have an ambivalent relation to light and electricity as it sometimes gets stuck fiddling with the switch.

The oilbird is a nocturnal fruit-eating bird species that breed in colonies in caves in the northern parts of South America. Oilbirds live their life in constant darkness and use clicking or shrieking noises, advanced nocturnal vision and their sense of smell to forage and navigate without daylight. The species’ young develop slowly and are very obese. In the past indigenous peoples and early settlers used to harvest and cook oilbird nestlings to extract oil for lamps. Some nests were always left untouched because a curse was said to be put on the deepest part of the cave.


Video commissioned by L’internationale.
Camera and assistant: Frida Peterson