This work was originally commissioned for Volume IV of Unfinished Histories at the Klosterruine in Berlin–Mitte, curated by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung. The initial floor installation consisted of 33 fine grain concrete birds laid to rest upon concrete/beton blocks.
The artist’s use of a dead bird leans into what is referred to in some contexts as an “idiom of distress”. In this work, Désert calls attention to psychosocial distress not just in the form of a discomforted cry, but as a warning and perhaps even an illustration of a warning ignored. He draws an allusion to the proverbial “canary in a coal mine” with a difference in acknowledging the pre-existence of a critical social situation. The birds, in their plurality of appearance further drive home Audre Lorde’s assertion that:
[Speaking] is never without fear; of visibility, of the harsh light of scrutiny and perhaps judgement, of pain, of death. But we have lived through all of those already, in silence, except death. And I remind myself all the time now, that if I were to have been born mute, and had maintained an oath of silence my whole life for safety, I would still have suffered, and I would still die.1
“Silence Will Not Protect You”, 2019, Site specific installation (Die Klosterruine Berlin, Bezirksamts Mitte von Berlin, Amt für Weiterbildung und Kultur, Fachbereich Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte) Concrete canaries, red clay bricks LED board,
2019: Installation, concrete canaries, bricks, LED text-board, various dimensions
Text: Mokia Laisin