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Natalie Jeremijenko at Postmasters

I happened to notice this review in today’s NYT art listings:

459 West 19th Street
Through Oct. 7

Natalie Jeremijenko’s show at Postmasters is a collective enterprise, her collaborators being several environmentally savvy architect-designers and untold numbers of New York City birds. Major migration flight paths run directly through the city, contributing to a serious population density, which is not so different from that experienced by humans. Ms. Jeremijenko, who merges the roles of artist, sociologist and environmentalist, sees the comparison as inarguable and addresses it directly, from an avian perspective.

To investigate quality-of-life options for the subjects of her study, she has commissioned designs for feeding and housing complexes, models of which are in the show. There are also information-gathering perches, similar to the ones she contributed to the recent Whitney Biennial, and a concert hall to observe how birds respond to recorded music.

In addition Postmasters’ roof has been turned into a kind of open-air urban laboratory where birds can alight and sample different kinds of human fare, from vegan to fast food, amid plant life both native and exotic and in an environment geared to attract many different species.

Will the birds distinguish between healthy and unhealthy diets? Will they adapt easily to unfamiliar surroundings? Will they tolerate, even thrive on, diversity? These are questions that Ms. Jeremijenko’s project, under the auspices of her Ooz corporation (Zoo spelled backward), addresses. And the data is coming in as you read.

Some people will dismiss the whole thing as hippy-dippy, feel-good stuff. I think Ms. Jeremijenko’s everything-is-connected philosophy is right on the money and her Franciscan implementation of it wise, witty and bracingly fierce. True, a gallery interior is not the ideal place to experience it. Access to Postmasters’ roof is birds-only during the run of the show (it can be viewed on a live video feed), but there’s plenty of delightful and instructive action once you walk out the door. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: Pigeons on the street, sweet. HOLLAND COTTER

The Ooz project website is here. I met Natalie a few years ago, when she was at Yale, and she struck me then as someone who has more ideas and energy than the world can ever absorb. Not all of those ideas work and some of that energy may come to little, but the review above captures something that I think is important and valuable: the everything-is-connected-philosophy. That’s a sensibility that I’m slowly trying to figure out how to express in the context of what I do.

1 thought on “Natalie Jeremijenko at Postmasters”

  1. I’ve seen some of Jeremijenko’s work–very impressive and creative. The process of tracking birds reminds of a Whitney exhibit I saw a few years ago, described here. Here’s a description of Klima’s Ecosystm:

    “Ecosystm, by John Klima, is a three-dimensional videogame made from digital representations of shares and currencies. Financial securities are presented as birds that change their flight according to their price, provoking a reflection about the volatility of the markets.”

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