A public garden & cultural center

Jeff Mertz

Avifauna: Birds + Habitat
Glyndor Gallery |
April 7–June 24, 2018

Pictured above:
In Your Land
, 2017–2018
Video, stereo sound environment
Dimensions variable
Photographed and edited by Jeff Mertz
Score composed, recorded and mixed by Finnegan Shanahan
Score performed by Finnegan Shanahan (guitar/vocals), Robby Bowen (percussion/vocals), and Jeff Mertz (vocals)
iPad application designed and programmed by Paul Hine
Courtesy of the artist’s team
Photo: Stefan Hagen

In Your Land is an experimental, nature-documentary project that explores the relationship between the extensive bird species that are native to New York and their immediate urban surroundings. Interdisciplinary, multimedia producer Jeff Mertz and his team have expanded on a video created last summer during his residency with the New York City Audubon on Governor’s Island. Filmed across three seasons in Jamaica Bay, Central Park, Prospect Park, at Wave Hill and on Governor’s Island, the work underscores the city’s diverse and thriving ecosystem. It presents birds in ordinary and poetic ways, through close-up views of local birds, including egrets, warblers, hawks, herons, sparrows and gulls, and slow-motion glimpses of moments that are often hard to capture. The installation includes Mertz’s two-channel, projected video and an original score that combines the sounds of nature with interpretive, contemporaneous music, providing a sense of calm. Looped in random intervals, the juxtaposition of two projections and sound is unique and unexpected. As the birds appear on the video, viewers can use accompanying iPads to access information on the species and locations.

Mertz’s interest in birds stems from a 2016 artist residency during which he filmed Iceland’s shorebird species. For Mertz, it is important not only to represent the abundant species, but to highlight “the value of building and preserving habitats within the city, as well as a potential for peace and connection with nature that is more accessible than, I think, many believe it to be.” His underlying concerns include pollution and other environmental issues for native and migrant species in urban habitats. He received a BS in Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas at Austin in 2015. This is Mertz’s first formal exhibition.

Pictured above: Installation view, Avifauna: Birds + Habitat (from left): Jeff Mertz,In Your Land, 2017–2018, courtesy of the artist; Nina Katchadourian, Too Late, 2003, courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Photo: Stefan Hagen.

Click hereto learn more about the artist.

An exhibition catalogue published on the occasion of Avifauna: Birds + Habitat is available here.

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.