Leipzig-based artist Edgar Leciejewski depicts bird species he finds lying on city streets in his native Germany. His images can be read as photographic field notes documenting such anthropological excursions. The series title, Aves, references the ornithological class of vertebrates, pointing to the artist’s lyrical approach to scientific study, which adopts experimental, analytical methods to create delicately rendered forms, textures, and colours.
Leciejewski’s images of birds make reference to illustrations in 18th-century encyclopedic works as testament to the subjectivity of the human gaze, and the role it plays in shaping scientific truths. Such drawings function as interpretations of their subjects, at a time when illustrators freely adjusted, idealized, or accentuated features they understood were important. With the invention of photography, science pushed aside subjective draughtsmanship and instead let nature speak for itself, documenting rather than interpreting. In Aves, Leciejewski challenges assumptions about the medium’s objectivity; he arranges and interprets his subjects to emphasize their aesthetic properties, disregarding formal features that would otherwise distinguish the species. He digitally scans each bird to create their direct imprint atop a scanning bed, resulting in “scanographs” that depict them with profound physical detail and intensity. Against shadowed backgrounds, wings outstretch and bodies arch as though caught in the midst of aerobatic movement, expressing a tension between the reality of absolute stillness and the possibility of energetic flight.
Presented at North York Centre as large-format banners that seem to float within the skyscraper’s glass atrium, this installation serves as a memento mori for these fallen creatures. Such urban structures pose a danger to birds, which become disoriented by the building’s reflective surfaces and suffer tragic results. Leciejewski’s nature morte photographic images evocatively venerate his lifeless subjects, elevating them to monumental proportions rendered in abstract yet exquisite detail.
Presented in partnership with NoYo AIR, in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Toronto
Supported by North York Centre