featuring Brittany Shepherd
On view May 10 – June 3, 2018
Curated by Kate Benedict and John Elammar

I’ve heard there aren’t any scientific distinctions between pigeons and doves. In ancient texts these words were used interchangeably as synonyms. Once cherished as a sacred symbol and messenger, the pigeon has fallen from grace with the invention of the dove.

I often think about the photographs captured moments after The Pope released two doves from his studio window in Vatican City. The birds were immediately attacked by a crow and seagull who found their unnaturally bred shade of white to be threatening. The images were circulated as a bad omen like a digital scroll tied to a bird’s leg.

The illusion was shattered by a force of nature like a torn perfume advertisement in a waiting room magazine. Images are subject to unpredictable fates once unleashed into the world. Posters in hair salons depict models sporting contemporary hair styles that with age become sun-bleached and wrinkled — their edgy styles fall out of fashion eroding away the aura of luxury for which they were once intended. Images fall victim to outside forces like Cinderella's gown at the stroke of midnight. In a world of fragile veneers midnight can strike at any moment.

Like pigeons and doves, photographs consist of the same stuff. Pixels, film, paper, vinyl and ink unify the Xeroxed collages in a punk zine, the Louise Lawler wall vinyl at the MOMA, and the wheat pasted billboard advertising the 2018 Kia Sedona. Is it my calling to turn a pigeon into a dove or should I swoop in like the crow?

Many of these older hair salons are closing down. Their windows temporarily covered in cheap craft paper, newsprint and stained fabrics — a makeshift form of privacy. Sometimes a mask can reveal more than it hides. A high resolution vinyl print tailor made for the window will soon pop up advertising a luxurious new business. I haven’t seen the man who feeds the pigeons in my neighbourhood since they put up construction barricades in the empty lot that was once their meeting place but will now support condos.

The windows of the Social Services office are decaled with white birds. The vinyl silhouettes are meant to prevent real birds from flying into the glass. The doves are there to scare them off. From a certain angle, a barbed wire fence casts a shadow and creates the appearance of an escape but pigeons are homing creatures that instinctively want to return to their nest, hopefully before the clock strikes midnight.


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