Thinking About Flying
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, 2012
The MCA was provided with a group of young homing pigeons that were cared for by the museum and trained by its visitors. Museum visitors were invited to participate by taking home a pigeon in a carrying case and releasing the pigeon to fly back to its loft on the museum's roof. As this training process progressed the pigeons traveled distances increasing from a few blocks to over 400 miles. Over the one year duration of the project over 1000 people took and released pigeons from their homes.
By sharing in the responsibility of caring for the pigeons, the relationship between the visitors, artwork and the institution is made explicit and personal and a collective stake in the ongoing life of the artwork is initiated. At once poetic and practical, the temporary placement of the pigeons in visitors' homes expands not only the navigational circumference of the artwork, but also the space of the museum itself. The traditional notion of an art museum is inverted as domestic spaces perform the function of temporary exhibition sites and the institutional space is cast as a domicile and caretaker. In this way the work maps the social and geographic relationship between the institution and its constituent audience. The pigeons could be viewed flying home to the museum from throughout the city, a process that also implicated all other city pigeons as possible participants.