North to South and Back
SpaceHL May 4 – June 9 2019
Zugunruhe is a word used to describe a certain kind of restlessness animals exhibit when they feel the compulsion to migrate. This urge to move was first reported by farmer and amateur naturalist Johann Naumann in the early 1800s. He noticed that caged migratory birds would flutter anxiously and show signs of shifting sleep patterns around the time that other birds of their species were beginning to migrate. Lina Dib’s multi-channel sound installation, North to South and Back, reflects on this observed urge to move. The work is composed primarily of bird sounds and focuses on species that migrate yearly through Houston, TX and the surrounding region. The compositions that make up this piece also include bird sounds made by human immigrants to Houston, such as the artist herself. North to South and Back points to Houston’s diversity and highlights various ways that life on earth is marked by, and even sustained by, movement.
Zugunruhe isn’t the only force driving populations to traverse perilous distances in order to thrive. Several of the bird species featured in North to South and Back are in decline due to climate change, encroachment and deforestation. Acting as ghosts in the system and sentinels for the future, songs of extinct birds also join the choruses of migrating birds and humans.
This exhibit is made possible in part by the City of Houston and the Houston Arts Alliance. Special thanks to the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and to the participants who contributed sounds.