Humans have long co-habited with companion species. While many were always present in the environment, others have been introduced into new landscapes as part of the colonial project. The intentions behind the introduction of exotic species carry complex contradictions, histories and affects: colonial, migratory, nationalistic, anthropogenic and sonic. Today, these animals exist around us but often escape unnoticed.
To companion a companion is an exhibition of new work by Argentinean-Australian artist Fernando do Campo that proposes the human as the companion species to birds. do Campo argues for ‘companioning’ as an artistic strategy realised through painting and archiving, listening and non-verbal forms of responding, and performing parafictions. Through these strategies, do Campo invites viewers to listen, watch, and respond to companion species in their immediate environment.
Do Campo’s works include the painting series 365 Daily Bird Lists (January 3rd 2019 – January 2nd 2020) (2019 -), a year-long archive and abstract record of every bird perceived by the artist. The accompanying video, Pishing in the archive (2021) is the culmination of the artist’s 5-year long research into the history of House sparrows in the Americas. House sparrows are the most populous bird in the world due to their introduction by humans to numerous continents. Do Campo’s fascination with the species extends to records of the bird in archival histories, an enduring presence alongside human narratives of migration and colonisation.
To companion a companion at PICAis the third and final iteration of the exhibition previously presented at Contemporary Art Tasmania (CAT), Hobart and UNSW Galleries, Sydney. The exhibition’s staging at PICA will present a new chapter of this project, building on do Campo’s ongoing research into human-bird relationship, with a focus on the unique history of specific species such as the House sparrow and Laughing kookaburra in Western Australia. do Campo looks to situated histories to consider broader ideas of ‘border-crossing’ and migration, urbanism and anthropocentrism, displacement and belonging.
The exhibition is accompanied by The Companion Companion Reader, a website conceptualised by the artist and designed by Will Lee. The Reader includes texts by invited contributors from across a range of disciplines that expand on notions of interspecies companioning, generated by the project over the course of its different iterations and collaborations. It includes contributions by Erin Hortle, Talia Linz, Timo Rissanen & Zoë Sadokierski, Annie Potts, Paul Kelaita, Kent Morris and Sophia Cai with more to be announced. www.companioncompanionreader.com