Requiem for the Birds

Part of an ongoing series of work, this piece is prompted by my anger and frustration at the global lack of action on our ongoing ecological crisis. Every day, it seems, we are confronted by a new species at risk and another thoughtless proposal to drill, rip, disturb, and destroy our ecosphere and its inhabitants, collateral damage in late capitalism’s frenzied consumption of everything. I despair that we no longer seem to have a sense of the interconnectedness of all life, an awareness of humanity’s place within the cosmos, and a respect for the other living beings that share the world with us.

The film begins with an examination of one of the two Passenger Pigeons contained in the collection of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, a species that became extinct just over one hundred years ago. Placed upon a small altar, the pigeon's still body is imagined as a site of transformation over which other threatened bird species float in silent sleep. The film concludes with the Passenger Pigeon's imagined soul, represented by its modern descendent the common Rock Pigeon, flying free above and beyond this plane of existence, as its body is returned to its cardboard crypt.

  • Lisa MacLean
  • Lisa MacLean
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    Experimental, art house, environmental, nature, biodiversity, passenger pigeon, birds, extinction
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes 28 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 4, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 14th International Short & Independent Film Festival, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    December 4, 2016
Director Biography - Lisa MacLean

Lisa MacLean has an MFA in Studio Art and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies (Art History, English, and Sociology) from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She has exhibited her art work and created installations locally, nationally, and internationally for many years and has been an artist in residence at institutions in Belgium, France, Turkey, and Italy. In addition to teaching in several post-secondary institutions in Canada and producing her own work, Lisa has curated a range of exhibitions and taken part in many collaborative projects. Spanning a variety of disciplines including digital media, photography, video, and mixed media installation, her practice confronts concerns related to cultural and natural history, gender, landscape and the body, architectural space, the environment, and memory.

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Director Statement

Sorrow at vanishing species, anxiety about global climate change, and hope for some new and better human relationship with nature and our fellow beings motivates me. As a small contribution to the fight against biodiversity loss and its costs, this body of work is created with hope for a reconfigured way of being on and with the earth.