Nira Pereg: 67 Bows

Nira Pereg brings political metaphor to the Hirshhorn Museum with her video 67 Bows.  The video presentation is located in the Black Box until November 13, 2011. The Israeli artists remains true to her documentarian roots with the haunting video.   Lacking a traditional narrative, the video reveals an interior of a flamingo sanctuary at a zoo in Germany.  The wide angled shots of flamingos contrast the audio of a gun cocking and firing a bullet.   Pereg edits the two elements together so the flamingo’s duck after the audio of the bullet. The contradiction between the beauty of the birds and the forcefulness of the audio imply multiple levels of violence.

With the flamingos metaphorically dodging bullets, Pereg questions the role of firearms in society.  Pereg handles this heavy-handed subject matter gracefully by enchanting the audience with the beauty of the flamingos.  At first glance, Pereg questions the hunter/prey relationship between humans and animals.  By filming the flamingos within the context of a zoo, Pereg questions the need for the animals to be protected.  In contrast to this notion, the reason zoos exist is to protect animals against human violence and the preservation of endangered species.

Pereg’s nationality provides an alternative avenue of interpretation, given the daily violence within Israel.  By anthropomorphizing the birds, Pereg invokes the human emotion of fear. The flamingos cower after the repetitive bullet noises.  The flamingos become a metaphor for the Israeli people. They live in a protected society, but still have to dodge bullets.

The strength of the video is the simplicity of the shots, the repetitive audio, and the looping images.  The messages behind the video become apparent by observing the video for a relatively short period of time.  The disparity of the audio and visual elements of the piece draws the viewer to watch the screen.  The beauty of the birds and a morbid sense of curiosity compel the viewer to keep watching.   Instead of repulsing the viewer, this video entices the viewer to observe and contemplate.

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