The Natural History Museum in Rotterdam is hosting the photography exhibition Ornithologie from 6 February to 5 June 2016. This exhibition offers unique observations of the world of birds, as seen through the camera viewfinders of the Dutch photographers and amateur ornithologists Anne Geene and Arjan de Nooy. The exhibition, arranged under the themes 'Camouflage', 'Bird geometry', 'In flight', 'Speed', 'Sticking one's head in the sand' (the Dutch term for this translates as 'ostrich policy') and 'Group dynamics', provides not only a photographic study of birds, but also an ornithological perspective on photography.
The exhibition includes an exciting find by Greene and De Nooy: the first known photo of a living wild bird (a woodpigeon), discovered in the classical photo 'An Oak Tree in Winter' by William Henry Fox Talbot from 1841-1843 (see photo at top of this page).
The exhibition is also accompanied by a 300-page English catalogue compiled by Geene and De Nooy, also called Ornithology. This was published as a book in its own right in February 2016. Ornithology is the science that studies the physiology, classification, ecology and behaviour of birds. Thanks to their omnipresence and often bright colouring, birds receive a great deal of attention from artists and photographers in particular. With their pseudo-scientific approach, the 'hunter-gatherers' Geene and De Nooy explore the boundaries between these disciplines and add a layer of their own, which is usually hard to find in scientific or artistic studies - that of humour. The themes they chose for the exhibition are based on a comical mix of creative and associative thinking, while each of their photos takes a refreshing look at birds.
The start of a new era in bird art
Anne Geene can talk her heart out about birds: "We're not scientists or really fanatical bird watchers, but we have learnt quite a lot about both subjects. It has become a passion for us. We have been taking photos of birds for years, wherever we were. I suppose we must have about 1000 bird photos in our personal collection. One of the incidents that gave rise to this exhibition was when Arjen and I happened to be taking a picture of the same bird - a whitethroat - in The Hague one day. It was just standing on a cycle path, with a bit of shrubbery behind it. As we were there on our knees, taking that photograph, we suddenly thought, "We've been taking bird photos for so long; why don't we pick out the best photos and make an exhibition of them?" Geene and De Nooy are mavericks in the world of bird photography, which is still dominated by people with a classical view of aesthetics. Many of their photos show stuffed birds, others show drawings or sculptures of birds, while they also have photos of nesting materials and bird droppings. The Ornithologie exhibition may be seen as the start of a new era in bird art. Together with the accompanying English-language book Ornithology, it takes an idiosyncratic, artistic look at birds, bird behaviour and a wide range of bird-related phenomena. The name of the exhibition is perhaps a little misleading, since it suggests that visitors are going to be introduced to birds from a more or less scientific viewpoint. It might have been better to call it: 'Birds - an artistic perspective', for this is what Anne Geene and Arjan de Nooy have to offer.
The exhibition 'Ornithologie' is to be viewed at the:
Natural History Museum in Rotterdam
3015 AA ROTTERDAM
Tel.: 00-31-(0)10 - 436 42 22
For further information please visit the websites:
www.hetnatuurhistorisch.nl and www.annegeene.nl.
The book 'Ornithology' can be ordered from De Hef Publishers in Rotterdam.
For further details please visit their website: www.dehefpublishers.nl