Today I was wandering around the internet and inadvertently fell head first into a rabbit hole. It was one of those things where all of a sudden you realize that no logical chain of topics can explain your current url. In this case the rabbit hole was a rather large nest, and I can't say I'm at all sorry I stumbled across it.
So this man named Benjamin Verdonck constructed this human sized nest on the side of a sky scraper (called Weena, and how a skyscraper gets a name like Weena, I do not know) in downtown Rotterdam over the course of six weeks. He used "the crowns of twenty-three silver birches, one birch, one willow, two straw bales, one bucket of spit, three bags of sand, twelve buckets of glue, and nineteen cans of polyurethane foam." And the fun doesn't stop there. Benjamin Verdonck spent six days performing from within the nest to passersby as part of the piece he's titled "The Great Swallow"
The idea of human nesting, clearly in contrast to the modern, machined architecture surrounding the nest, tugs at my brain strings. The public reaction to the piece is tender, sincere, and of course, a little skeptical. I find myself concerned for him up there alone in the nest, and not because I think he's irrational and unpredictable. More because it's a nest, of sticks and twigs and spit and spit and its clinging to the side of a vertical mirrored wall. I really hate that our instincts have evolved to doubt structure like that and to trust structure of metal and glass. I think the introduction of the organic matter alone garnered genuine engagement from people on the street, transforming their regular self-involvement into conversation. A sterile, harsh downtown becomes a functional urban space. And this is even before things get really crazy:
Feathers! Crowing! I find it strange that most of the art blogs posting about the story of the Great Swallow fail to react in any way to what is undeniably a seriously unusual event on a very grand scale. I think it has something to do with the fact that the art is really the interaction itself, the being there, the feeling for Benjamin Verdonck up there in his nest and his sad sad song over the egg all the way down there on the street. And the decision to care about him in Real Life is a feeling that I imagine doesn't translate even through images and video and whatnots. So instead they post pictures and point and say "See? Woah!" I just can't empathize with this simple presentation of such extraordinary information.
I'm sad that I can't read his website as it is written in Dutch. And maybe I've got it all wrong, about the feeling and the people and the city being changed by a nest for human beings. It just feels like a holiday to see such craziness injected into the monotony of the everyday. It's easy to say he's insane. But so much more accurate to say he's a common hero. And one of the very best kind.