Rachel Carson’s 1962 prophetic essay Silent Spring was critical in the banning of DDT. Today we find ourselves witnessing the steep decline in the species of insects and birds that Carson predicted over 60 years ago. In this series, human body parts and consumer products give form to insects and birds, illustrating the plight of the numerous threatened species of North America.
Referring to the images of people of color used in her work, Paul cites the groundbreaking laws adopted for both the environment and for civil rights in the 1960’s that are consistently contested in racial politics. Marginalized communities have been disproportionately harmed by increasingly hazardous environments. Paul’s work strives to honor their resilience and self-empowerment in the struggle for environmental justice and wellness equity while urging for collective action.
3. J. Goodman review of Silent Spring exhibition at Miyako Yoshinaga gallery, 2020
The Age of Discovery map series refer to navigation maps from the 15th and 16th centuries when Europeans began to explore new territories and colonize the world. These maps often featured detailed illustrations of the lands, animals, and people that were encountered during the explorations. The new series of maps created by the artist, serve as a post-colonialist gesture and “place” endangered species of birds on the ancient maps. By doing so the artist aligns with the intent to “Abolish the dualist map on which we stand, change the cartography of allies and enemies, make in this way a political gesture out of ‘on-the-ground’ philosophical work”.
Paul uses ink line and wash drawings to create the maps and the enhanced value is created through a combination of three components: the printed original map, the two painted birds and the words. While the words function as poetry, an art which pushes to the limit the idea of resonance, the map’s graphics, and the birds above it shows markings which are, at one and the same time, part of the geographical history of the world and the formation of continents; of human history and mapping the world; and of the singular hand of the artist recomposing the image of each bird.
These maps, in addition to recounting the history of the world, as seen by humans over time, tell the present-day story of extinct birds. Through them we learn that certain birds accompany migrants; this is the case of Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni, Buse de Swainson, which migrate from South America, above the “Panama Papers” (words which indicate both the place and the fact that this region of the world is directly tied up with the problematic functioning of the world economy). “Up, up, up,” Paul writes about the bird and the financial system alike. This commentary is inscribed in Paul’s work, in the margins of the map.
The bird flutters above the left-hand side of the old map of New France, which would become the North America known today with its social and environmental injustices impacting migrants at large. On the right-hand side, the eastern part of the continent, the bird painted is the Cape May Warbler, Setophaga tigrina, Paruline tigrée; a jewel- bedecked starfish with bees also being part of the work. The tail feathers are set with emeralds and recall the shape of the conifers and spruce of the boreal forest. The bird’s head appears to disintegrate, like the forests pillaged for centuries by the great pulp and paper industry. This is the story told by the words appearing on the margins of the map like a poem:
Tweet, tweet, tweet,
the Cape May Warbler
gorges on the spruce budworm, nesting in the
in the summer.
Cut, cut, cut that forest
pulp and paper
Down, down, down the Warbler goes, following
the money trail of the Pandora Papers in winter.
4. The Age of Discovery Maps created during the 15th and 16th centuries when Europeans began exploring and colonizing the world. The maps were created to help with navigation and to show the new lands that were discovered in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Many of these maps were made by famous cartographers such as Gerardus Mercator, Abraham Ortelius, and Theodor de Bry. These maps often featured detailed illustrations of the lands, animals, and people that were encountered during the Age of Discovery. Some of the maps also included
5. Baptiste Morizot, 2020
6. Cut, cut, cut the Boreal Forest – North America’s Bird Nursery, 2022)
“What I am asking of birds: to open up our imaginations to other ways of thinking, to break away from certain routines, to highlight the effects of certain types of attention--what exactly is it that we decide to single out as remarkable in what we observe? And to make other stories possible…. All of this must inevitably [favor] a certain attentiveness and a certain imagination”.
-Vinciane Despret, Living as a Bird
Artists and writers throughout the continent are currently involved in a redefinition of our continental topography. We imagine either a map of the Americas without borders, a map turned upside down, or one in which... borders are organically drawn by geography, culture, and immigration, not by the capricious fingers of economic domination.