Claudia Märzendorfer, For the Birds

Claudia Märzendorfer invited ten artists to design nesting and feeding boxes to be installed in the immediate surroundings of KUNST HAUS WIEN. The result: endearing birdhouse prototypes that stand For the Birds in a poetic, progressive and concrete way. As part of a collective project, these bird dwellings signalled diversity, conviviality and a sense of solicitude. They also came to symbolise some of life’s fundamental questions: How and where do we live? Do we share space? Are our heads up in the air or do we stand with both feet firmly on the ground?

While birds are important indicators of an intact environment, they are being displaced by humans through industrialisation and intensive agriculture. Designing a bird-friendly environment and creating a habitat, especially in urban settings, is therefore an active contribution to species and nature conservation. Nesting and feeding sites provide an overnight roost and a secure place for young birds to hatch and be reared, not to mention a protected retreat, promoting bird life within the neighbourhood.

‘I am for the birds, not for the cages’ – quoting the pioneering composer John Cage, Märzendorfer is also keen to expand ideas of (social) worlds and the ecological aspects associated with them, to question conventions, and to consider happenstance and the uncontrollable as design resources. What’s more, artists are often referred to as ‘odd birds’. Indeed, their different ways of thinking and looking at things give rise time and again to surprising departures from ‘normality’. With subtle humour, Claudia Märzendorfer succeeds in building a bridge through her exchanges with other artists so that, in the future, we will not have to do without the diversity of birdsong that swifts, jackdaws and house martins provide us.

Text: Barbara Horvath

The ‘aeronautical sculpture garden’ was created for the first time in 2019 as part of a competition initiated by the art in the public space programme of Lower Austria in the gardens of the Landes­ klinikum Hollabrunn, featuring more than 45 artists.