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September 1, 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon.  As of the mid-19th Century this dove-like bird flew in massive flocks of millions and would literally darken the skies of Eastern North America.

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) has invited artists Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris (Sayler/Morris) along with the writer Elizabeth Kolbert to collaborate on a video installation and publication to commemorate this anniversary as part of a much bigger story about extinction that, as Kolbert has written, is “only beginning to unfold.” With extinction rates now “higher than they’ve been at any point since the dinosaurs disappeared sixty-six million years ago,” we are at a watershed moment in the history of our planet.  The cause of our current extinction rates seems undeniably human – climate change, pollution, habitat loss, invasive species, etc.

At MASS MoCA, Sayler/Morris and Kolbert will install a five-screen, 100-foot video projection on the walls and ceiling of a cavernous industrial space.  The video will consist of a flock of passenger pigeons in reverse-negative silhouette.  The birds will appear every 20 minutes and their numbers will gradually diminish until there is only one bird left.  The video will be accompanied by sound and a limited edition newspaper made by the artists and Kolbert.  The video installation will open August 1, 2014 and will run for one year.



Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris (Sayler/Morris) in conversation with Elizabeth Kolbert

Nick Roth

Sound Design:
Matthew Patterson Curry

Exhibition History:
HAZEL WOLF GALLERY OF THE DAVID BROWER CENTER, Berkeley, CA, Canary Project: Art / Act Award, 2016

PHILIP AND MURIEL BERMAN M– USEUM OF ART, Collegeville, PA, Rare Birds, 20160

MASS MOCA, North Adams, MA,Eclipse, 2014-15

Artist Publication:
Eclipse Publication,  (Design by ReMake Design)

Grants and Support:
The Ann Marie and Steven Kellen Foundation and Eric and Stacy Cochran, with additional funding provided by Light Work Endowment, Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts, Barbara E. Bund, The Compton Foundation, and The Foundation for Contemporary Arts.