Symphony for Absent Wildlife
Exhibition history: 2020 Courants Verts, Fondation Groupe EDF, Paris, France
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta
Symphony for Absent Wildlife draws together series of performances staged in Banff National Park and the cities of Calgary, Milan and London, since 2014. The film weaves a story of loss through the history of the point-blanket, an exchange commodity between First Nations peoples and the early European trappers and traders. The felt point-blanket, woven in the UK and traded for beaver fur in Canada, gradually effaced one cultural identity, to install the ‘democratic’ capote. Felt is also the material used for the orchestra’s costume. It is shaped to depict birds and animals connected with the spirit belief system of the indigenous peoples in Canada. These creatures –bison, wolves, eagles– hunted to near extinction, were once abundant across the Albertan plains. The symphony imagined by Lucy + Jorge Orta is played on bird-whistles and recounts the cycle of disappearance as the dawn-chorus closes with a heart-wrenching silence.