Mother Pigeon‘s rapture with New York City’s indigenous wildlife has led to a course of activism, through art and public installations. The artist, known to her human companions as Tina Piña Trachtenburg will debut a gregarious Flash Flock, designed to coax a “much maligned” and “overlooked” avian out of the landscape and into the public eye. Her upcoming “Outstallation” will bring an unprecedented number of Trachtenburg’s hand-felted pigeons to roost in NYC’s Washington Square Park.
Trachtenburg’s work is inspired by a “simple life” with a family who individually and collectively create their own music, clothing and food. Her maternal desire “to feed everyone—people and animals” naturally extended to the flock of feral pigeons on her Bushwick, Brooklyn roof. Her home has become a sanctuary. “Lovely Rita” can be found splinted and recovering in Tractenburg’s home, while the bird’s healed life-mate “Uncle Albert” is welcomed at the window. As an artist, Trachtenburg saw no immediate practical applications for her interest. “I had thought about making stuffed pigeons in the past,” shares Trachtenburg, “but I didn’t think it would be functional.”
Trachtenburg, whose work and life are without clear boundaries, is best known for another maternal role, that of “The Mom” in The Trachtenburg Family Slide Show Players, an “indie-vaudeville-conceptual-art-rock” band. An early 2000s “pre-internet” phenomenon, the troupe is renowned for pairing vintage slide carousels found at thrift and estate sales with wry and subversive lyrics. They began projecting images to accompany songs such as “Look At Me,” an ode to two retired military nurses from Seattle. “People thought we made things up. We didn’t. We knew them,” she insists of the subjects in the slides. “We knew their names, what they did, where they went.”
The talent for observation, and creating art from the discarded and overlooked has brought Trachtenburg closer to New York’s pigeon population. From the first pigeon sculpted from wire armature and filled with sweater remnants and feathered in acrylic felt, each is unique. “No two pigeons are the same,” notes the artist, overlooking a felt flock that includes blue bars, checkered, and males with purple and green cowls milling around felted pizzas.
The felted flock is found in city parks several times a week and can be located from Trachtenburg’s twitter feed. Her fans are invariably native New Yorkers. “Tourists, don’t get it.” She suggests using the amusement of onlookers to educate.
The artist delights in converting an all-too-common disregard toward appreciation. She is a walking emblem of the cause, who at the Outsallation will be adorned in feathers collected by her daughter Rachel, a fascinator featuring nesting fledglings and handmade charms, including one of Nikola Tesla, who also loved pigeons. Trachtenburg extends an open invitation to celebrate the city’s indigenous wildlife, “Look at pigeons the way you would look at a rose or a flower.” To see creatures, “with the same beauty and intelligence, because we don’t really have much more.”
The “Flashflock Outstallation” will take place on the West Wing of Washington Square Park on Saturday, 11 October 2014 from 12–5 PM (weather depending).
Images by Flora Beatrix Tauber