Carsten Höller

Höller (JPG)Untitled (from the series "Birds"), 2006
Photoengraving, paper
75 x 58 cm
(c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015; publisher Niels Borch Jensen Galerie, Berlin

There’s something jarring about the birds, even at first sight. While some species admittedly look familiar, we are bewildered by the great variety of shapes and above all their feathery coats. And indeed, the animals depicted in the works of Carsten Höller (*1961 Brussels, BE), who has a doctorate in agricultural sciences, are in fact artificially bred in captivity – in other words, these are bird species that do not exist in the wild. Portrayed are hybrids combining two species of finch as well as mutations that have deliberately been bred out in a single type of finch. The birds were photographed by Leone Giuliano Pidala, who specialises in animal photography. Höller selected the images and used a two-colour engraving technique to place the almost artificial-seeming images on the borderline between colour and black-and-white, giving them a spatial character against the flat background. The process employed to create the images can also be read as an analogy for the artificiality with which the birds were bred, with the artist choosing existing graphical material, making a selection from it and then reworking the selected images in the print studio.

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