Tourists have been shocked to see coloured pigeons in St Mark’s Square, Venice while animal lovers were aghast. It was enough perhaps to make even Mary Poppins blanche.
The flock of 35 red, green, blue, yellow, pink, purple and turquoise birds are not the result of a bizarre genetic mutation but an artwork produced for the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale. Called “Some Pigeons Are More Equal Than Others” the coloured birds are the work of Swiss artist Julian Charrière in collaboration with German photographer and so-called “guerilla paparazzo” Julius von Bismarck supported by Vogt Landscape Architects.
The pigeons were dyed after being trapped and then automatically airbrushed in different colors using what Charrière calls his “pigeon apparatus”. The artist claims that the process does not harm the birds while other commentators have said that it may deter them from finding mates with which to breed. He told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: “Pigeons make up part of our urban landscape, but we view them as though they are an unrecognisable mass, whereas each one has its own identity.”
An evident sly comment on racism in a country struggling with its attitude towards migrants, the provocative piece of performance art has certainly set the cat among the pigeons in Italy where some regard the artist’s actions as an abuse of indefensible animals.