The Danish Nest has explored the entanglement and encounters between humans and birds in the city. By looking at how humans and birds co-exist, our intention as been to contribute to a reconsideration of the value of birds in the city and how a city might be designed to better accommodate both human and avian needs.
As a growing capital region, Copenhagen is the home of around 1 million human inhabitants – and around 400 different species of birds. Some species are abundant in numbers, like the magpie or the ringed gull. Others are only passing through, and some are few and far between (like the sea eagle). Human ways of intertwining with our avian co-inhabitants are many, and emotions vary from fear and irritation to awe and compassion. Several zones of the city are important for migrating bird species, but birds are never actually included in big scale planning.
We have focused on spaces, movements, territories, how to increase sensitivity, and how to understand bird perceptions and patterns. The overall approach has been to explore with participatory means what entanglement means in this place through workshops, walks and art forms such as movement/body; photography; sound; incorporated mapping, and text.
The Nest: Avian/Human was carried out in Copenhagen in spring 2023 from early February till early June. It took place on and near the former industrial pier of Islands Brygge, in the middle of Copenhagen. Today, the pier is part of a residential and business neighbourhood, and the program Avian-Human was aimed at triggering the attention of inhabitants and users of the pier area toward their (human) inter-existence with the birds of the area (Avian).
The Danish Nest is co-curated by Action-Philosopher Oleg Koefoed and bird expert Nikolaj Noel Christensen of the Danish Society of Ornithology at the University of Copenhagen LIFE sciences and the Danish Conservationist Society.
VOICES – Embodied Knowledge of Place (55 min, 4-channels, loop)
by Maiken Vibe Bauer
VOICES is a site-specific sound installation and collective space for radical listening, based on the 119 different and often unnoticed bird species belonging to the shared urban landscape of Islands Brygge, Copenhagen.
VOICES invites participants to a dawn listening session contrasting the bustling harbour front of Islands Brygge, giving space and time to the singular voices of the birds.
Set against the backdrop of four early mornings, synchronizing with the dawn chorus, VOICES deliberately unfolds on the birds’ terms. This temporal alignment is an effort to invert our habitual listening dynamics, providing a platform for these non-human voices to articulate themselves unhurriedly.
Extended over 55 minutes the installation invites participants to immerse themselves in a contemplative environment, dedicating their attention and awareness and time to the nuanced voices of our non-human companions. Conceived as a parliament of diverse voices, the piece encourages the discernment of each bird’s individual expression played out in order of appearance—whether verbal or non-verbal. It delves into the subtleties of timbre, rhythm, and the distinct sonic language inherent in each creature.
In crafting VOICES, my process intentionally diverged from the prevalent human-centric auditory landscape. In a culture where we are increasingly taught to talk and make ourselves heard, listening becomes a radical act. This sound installation is conceived as a radical space for collective listening, opening up a space for attentiveness, reflecting on listening together as an act of care and how vibrant relations connect us to place.
Special thanks to Nikolaj Noel Christensen for his expertise in identifying the 119 bird species, contributing to the VOICES project.
FUGLESPOR / BIRD TRACES
by Nana-Francisca Schottländer and Laura Winge.
The workshop FUGLESPOR / BIRD TRACES focused on exploring the traces of birds in a cityscape like Islands Brygge, where birds are considered unwelcome guests, are chased away or ignored. How can we pay attention to their lives, their ways, theirpreferences – and what can we as humans learn from that?
The event took place as a workshop, where the audience was invited to explore their surroundings, observe, and try to sense the movements and behavior of local birds. Participants performed certain actions such as offering seeds, drawing how we sensed the birds, the space and the conditions of life. The journey began with a reading circle of Vinciane Despret’s book, Living as a Bird. Meeting up on Sunday afternoons in the dark winter month of February in the Dome of Life, anyone could come along, and the reading would be shared between the participants. When there was something we wanted to address, we would stop and talk. And when we heard words or phrases, that resonated, we would write them on the glass of the dome, and the words would merge with the view of the harbor landscape and the winter skies surrounding the room.
The workshop consisted of different steps, like a ritual:
An inauguration in the “nest” that we had created as our base for the day.
A session to name the birds there, all the birds we know and all the imaginary birds we can think of.
An individual journey, looking for traces of the birds’ life here: footprints, bodies, movements, feathers, nesting materials, food, paths and more.
After the solitary explorations, each of us in turn, based on the principles of the Going Visiting method, invited the rest of the group to our findings to connect through our senses, our bodies, our thoughts, and our imagination to everyone’s bird’s eye view exploration. Then we all came back to the ‘nest’ to draw, write, and otherwise record our thoughts, insights, and experiences during the day. Finally, we created a clay egg together, full of sunflower seeds and our hopes and intentions for the future of bird/human co-existence in a place like this. In the summer, the egg was placed in a remote corner of the Sydhavnstippen, originally a rubbish dump or scrap metal now turned into a protected natural area (for now) in a braided grass nest to slowly decay, meet the ground there and plant the seeds, hopes and intentions for the future of bird/human coexistence to grow and flourish here.
The workshop was developed in collaboration between design anthropologistLaura Winge and artist Nana Francisca Schottländer, based on our individual yet very related practices and methodologies of ‘Going Visiting’ (NFS) and ‘Visiting as a subject- and object-makingdance'(LW). We both draw inspiration from the work of Donna Haraway and Vinciane Despret, and this quote was central:
COLLECTIVE IMAGINATION OF THE NEST
by Becoming Species.
For two days, the artists transformed the inside of the dome into a nest. The first day was with adults and the next with young children and their parents. The nesting activity started in the dome, but also extended into the public space. The artists and participants went through the life stages of a bird, from egg to hatchling, chick and young bird, trying out their new ability to fly and their wings. The audience was invited to paint themselves, create costumes and sharpen their sensual understanding of life in the city as a bird.
Participants in Avian-Human
Oleg Koefoed (DK)
Oleg Koefoed is a multidisciplinary ‘actionist’ studying and playing with how to raise human awareness toward regenerative relations with each other and the worlds they inhabit. After having co-created units working with culture and transdisciplinarity, sustainability, and urban nature, he now leads the Center for Vitalism and Regenerative Transformation, based in Copenhagen. His approach involves co-creating sites for learning, action-philosophical research, commoning through conversations, writings, and listening, as well as training of organisations and leaders in the public and private sectors.
Nikolaj Noel Christensen (DK)
Nikolaj is educated in educational science with a specialisation in management, natural philosophy and Education for Sustainable Development (UBU).
His gaze is sharply focused on the space between nature policy and sustainability throughout society, including in relation to educational policy issues. His great interest in natural politics locally and nationally has resulted in a commitment to the Danish Ornithological Society regarding the political discussion on urban development in Copenhagen.A commitment that has also secured him a large and strong network across the green agenda. When Nikolaj does not participate in the nature policy and sustainable agenda, time passes mainly with life with birds and the dissemination of birds in many contexts.
Laura Winge (DK)
artist and co-designer
Laura Winge is a visual artist and design anthropologist PhD. Her practice-based research frequently centers on codesign as ways of engaging, connecting and exploring dialogues with humans and others, sites and environmental networks.
Maiken Vibe Bauer (DK)
Maiken Vibe Bauer is a sound artist and researcher based in Copenhagen. MVB holds a M.Sc in Chemistry and M.sc. in Cultural Encounters and has been working with sound, field recordings and sonic practices since 2008. In her work MVB explores how sounds shape our world, how we listen and how sonic experiences can open up spaces for attentiveness, sensing and relating to the living world. Taking point of departure in meticulous field recordings, archival sounds and scientific data she investigates the often complex and unnoticed sounds, and nonhuman voices that surrounds us.
Alongside her own practice she collaborates and co–creates regularly with other artists, performers, choreographers, scientists and researchers. MVBs works span from multi-channel compositions, installations, curated listening spaces, performative sound walks to more documentary forms such as archives, registrants and audio essays.
Becoming Species (DK)
performative activist collective
Becoming Species is a performative, activist collective based in Copenhagen, exploring and criticizing the current climate emergency and biodiversity crisis on the limit between rebellion, protest and inspiration for future alternatives.Soundartist
Nana Francisca Schottländer (DK)
Nana Francisca Schottländer is a transdisciplinary artist working with choreography, visual arts and performance as practice-based research exploring collaborative creation and intimate dialogues between human and more-than-human worlds and bodies.