Look at the troubles happening in our world!
Anarchy – discontent – upheaval!
Desperate fights over territory, water, and food!
Poisoned air! Unhappiness!”

—  Attar, Farid Al-Din, (1177)

The Conference of the Birds is a transdisciplinary, polyphonic and socially engaged art project with collaborations between artists, scientists and bird enthusiasts, reflecting on bird cultures and bird-human relations in the Nordic countries and Russia. However, unfortunately due to the global situation, the collaboration with Russia is currently on hold. Our intention is to help lift our human gaze into a bird’s eye perspective, renewing the way people think about birds but also finding new ways of welcoming and including birds back into our culture. 

The project is inspired by the epic poem “The Conference of the Birds” (1170) by the Persian poet Farid ud-Din Attar, where the birds of the world gather to bring attention to many of the problems affecting both the lives of birds and of humans, problems which resonate to this day. Sadly, we are currently witnessing alarming declines of bird populations and expecting mass species extinction due to climate change and other environmental problems. The stories behind the statistics – how birds are affected by habitat loss, invasive species, pesticides and climate change – can help make these abstract problems we are all facing more tangible and emotionally touching. Migrating birds show us that the challenges are beyond borders, disciplines and species, and so are the solutions. 

Marjakari 2020, Photo: Jan Eerala
Marjakari 2020. Photo: Jan Eerala

The Conference of the Birds aims to explore and understand what is happening to avian life, as well as how this affects human cultures and lives. We want to examine and understand shared human-avian histories, and to create new lines of thought and action to ensure the continuance of our co-existence in the uncertain future. Through interdisciplinary research, exhibitions and public events, we are asking the question: How can we integrate birds into our culture and activate a physical and emotional engagement with birds by lifting our gaze and seeing the world from a bird’s eye view?

We are:

  • Creating platforms where  art and science intersect to communicate birds eye perspectives.
  • Organising art events that inspire, encourage and move people to expand their understanding of, and engagement with, birds.
  • Sharing experiences across borders and addressing common avian and environmental challenges within the Nordic countries and Russia.
  • Initiating alternative approaches and practices of co-existing with birds by encouraging sustainable ways of contributing to thriving birdlife.