Anna Martynenko

“Parrots Of the Gaza Palace of Culture”, 2020

curator Lizaveta Matveeva
For Art Prospect festival at the Gaza Palace of Culture, St. Petersburg

In the brain, parrots have special "singing centers" - interconnected groups of neurons that coordinate singing and learning. The neurons enable birds to memorize and repeat the words and phrases they hear. Parrots kept by different families, learn words and expressions – characteristic to each particular family and its milieu, picking up words from the stream of speech around them.

Historically, a cage with parrots was situated in the lobby next to the wardrobe. There is no evidence when this cage was installed. Before it eventually disappeared in the 1990s, more than twenty budgerigars of different colors were housed in it. Local projectionist Dmitry looked after the birds until he moved onto a different work place, taking the cage away with him.

The artist reconstructs the cage design after interviewing the locals and approximates the presence of the birds again. The mechanist conducts the chorus of parrots and picks up words and phrases drawn from the history of the palace. All these words hang in the air today, just as they could have been heard before. Parrots, as impartial witnesses, broadcast them, evoking the atmosphere of the place and making its story audible.

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