Pigeon performance art in New York is ruffling a few feathers, and no wonder. The pigeons failed to sign performance agreements.
Andy Newman reports at the New York Times, “No one asked 2,000 pigeons if they wanted to have lights strapped to their legs in the name of art. Nor did anyone ask the birds how they felt about being shooed from their homes at dusk and sent flying up to illuminate the Brooklyn sky.
“But whether Duke Riley’s avian-powered performance piece ‘Fly by Night‘ constitutes pigeon abuse is a more complicated question.
“More than 5,000 people have signed a change.org petition calling for the show, which opened May 7 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, to be closed. …
“Their charges: that the birds are terrified by the flapping plastic flag Mr. Riley waves to keep them flying; that it is unnatural to make pigeons fly at night, when they normally rest; and that between their poor night vision and the distractions of the moving lights, they could become disoriented and crash into the East River. …
“Before ‘Fly by Night’ opened, [however], the nonprofit arts group that organized it, Creative Time, asked the director of the Wild Bird Fund, Rita McMahon, to inspect. The fund, based on the Upper West Side, treats more than 2,000 sick and injured pigeons a year.
“ ‘Mixing art and animals is a very risky business,’ said Ms. McMahon, who is a state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator, ‘but I was very impressed.’ The pigeons were healthy and well fed, their temporary homes beautiful and clean.
“ ‘I didn’t see any traumatized pigeons,’ she added. ‘You see them mating, courting, everything, all over the boat. I think that’s a pretty good sign.’
“ ‘Fly by Night’ runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until June 12, and the protesters say they will be out every night for the rest of the run.”
Photo: Byron Smith for The New York Times