Erik Berglin is a Stockholm-based contemporary artist who works with photography as his primary medium. Over the last twelve years, he has studied birds from rare ornithology books bringing exotic wildlife into urban contexts worldwide as part of his Bird Project. During the project, the artist scanned pages from ornithology resources, printed and hand-cut birds out in natural scale, and then wheat-pasted them in urban environments over five continents. From start to end, a total of 4982 birds were wheat-pasted in twelve cities around the world. Releasing them from their paper imprisonment, Berglin placed each bird in a carefully selected location in Gothenburg, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Casablanca, New York, Reykjavik, Madrid, Malmö, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, London, and Stockholm. The presence of wildlife in urban environments, far away from the natural habitat, acted as a painful reminder of the once rich fauna, which today fights for survival in response to harmful human activities.
Berglin’s unique project has now been made available as a book, ‘The Bird Project 2006-2017,’ designed by Lundgren+Lindqvist and published by ll’Editions. Counting 208 pages, the book features 101 plates printed in a highly complex process that replaced standard CMYK colors of the offset printing process with fluorescent counterparts. This new printing process has enabled the vivid colors, details, and photo-realism of Berglin’s photographs to come to the fore. The plates are silkscreen coated with high gloss UV varnish, adding further to the depth and vividness of the colors. The book is printed in an edition of 500 copies. It is also available as a special edition of 30 copies, divided into three sets of ten books. Each is presented in a fluorescent acrylic glass slipcase with an inkjet print, signed and numbered by the artist. In addition, the book contains a folded poster with an index of the Latin names of all 4982 birds, along with the addresses where they were pasted.
At a time of declining bird populations caused by habitat loss and degradation, Berglin’s impressive and thought-provoking project reminds us that each extinction makes our home a lonelier place to live – and why conserving birds is such a critical task of the 21st century. Photographs ©Erik Berglin