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The Sad Locust Hunters (2022)

4-channel sound work
Tea House Gallery, Hansen House, Jerusalem

The work examines the phenomenon of invasive species, particularly the spread of the common Myna bird in Israel. An invasive species is one that, through human intervention, breaks through an ecological barrier that it could otherwise not have overcome, establishing an independent population and expanding its living space beyond the point of entry. It is said that the population explosion of the Common Myna, originating in south Asia, began following the escape or release of about 20 individuals from the bird sanctuary in Tel Aviv about 25 years ago. Today it is rated the sixth most common bird in Israel. The Myna is defined as a "hostile invasive species" because it forces local species out and disrupts agriculture and urban infrastructure.

In this work, Ziv explores sonoric and musical means of expressing the multilayered and complex phenomenon of the Myna's invasion of Israel: on the one hand, the aggressive explosion of the Myna population; and on the one hand, the duality between the strong and harsh reactions the bird evokes in people and the fact that it didn't ask to be put in this environment in the first place. The work comprises field recordings of Myna birds from several places in Jerusalem alongside recordings of the artist's voice. By slowing down and lowering the pitch of the recordings of the Mynas, Ziv transposes the sounds to the human vocal range. This allows her to imitate the Myna's calls and create a sonoric hybrid between herself and the bird, between human and animal. This post-human entity materializes through the sense of hearing.

Titled after the Myna's scientific name - Acridotheres Tristis, the work's four parts are based on two primary groups of materials: the closed repertoire and the open repertoire of the Myna birds. The closed repertoire is a collection of natural calls that are used for communication within the species. This is manifested in the work through polyphonic processes in melodic lines. The open repertoire is unique to birds that can imitate and learn, and it is based, among other things, on the sounds that the Myna birds adopt from their adopted soundscape. In the work, we hear imitations of local urban sounds such as construction, alarms, and sirens. The sounds and silences around the Tea House are also essential components of the work.

Created as part of a residency at Mamuta Art & Research Center
Curators: Amir Bolzman and Sala-Manca Group

Poster & animation design by Anat Gutberg

The work was nominated for the Phonurgia Nova Awards 2023.

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