Pigeons a symbol of life in the city

HANNAH MCKEE
Last updated 06:46 06/01/2014
Pigeon
BIRD-WALK EMPIRE: The pigeon posters are a commentary on identity.

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Although many might think that Lambton Quay, Courtenay Place and Cuba St already have more than their fair share of pigeons, it seems one Wellington street artist disagrees.

In addition to the little, grey, breathing ones that play dodgem around your feet, other pigeons have been popping up high and low around Wellington on walls and buildings in poster form.

Capital Day tracked down the artist responsible for the poultry pop-art who wishes to remain anonymous but goes by the artist name BENT.

"I don't wish to be anonymous for my sake but for the sake of the art, if there is an acknowledged person behind the pigeons, they lose sense of realism," he says.

BENT remembers pasting up the first pigeon in June 2013 on the corner of Willis and Ghuznee streets, after the urge to publicly exhibit artwork sitting in his workshop grew.

"But basically, it's what I like to do. Some people like to gym, some like to read, and so on."

The Wellingtonian says one of the reasons he chose to focus on pigeons was to convey the idea of "identity" - a theme the artist considers particularly relevant in New Zealand.

"The pigeon fitted in with finding identity within the pack but also acknowledged a wide population of humans who live in cities . . . the pigeon can be a symbol of identity almost for everyone. "

BENT has seen the public reaction - some take photos of the posters, others rip them down, but he says it is all part of the art's interactions with the environment.

Wellington may be a small place in a world context but it is huge in its creative aspects, he says.

"So to me, Wellington seems to be the right place and the right time to be doing this."

For those who thought he might have been attempting to send a message of world peace, or domination, think again.

"I'm sure many could read a message behind giant pigeons, whether it's a social commentary of our feral race just like pigeons, or maybe a political message as how the poster uses public and private space.

"But personally, there is no message I would like to send out with them, there is just an idea behind them that justifies the project to me."

However, BENT does have a message for those who consider the urban birds as "poultry pollution" or "rats with wings".

"People who think pigeons are rats with wings should remember how amazing it must be to have wings."

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- The Dominion Post

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