Dhara Rivera, Aves y Agüeros (Birds and Omens): Galeria Sagrado Corazón, Puerto Rico

22 April - 10 July 2021

Dhara Rivera dedicates most of her artistic production to the environmental crisis. Through installation, performative action or video, the artist combines strategies in her artistic practice that besides serving to build the poetics of her work, are able to provoke emotional responses beyond the data expressed in the scientific reports. 


In this exhibition the artist uses as a starting point a reflection on two texts: the book by biologist Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, published in 1962, and the essay by writer Eduardo Lalo, "Narrating the Unnamable" included in the book Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm, published in 2019. Both readings narrate the disappearance of birds, in the first by the indiscriminate use of pesticides such as DDT and in the second by the fierce winds of Hurricane Maria that devastated the island in September 2017. 


Birds, in addition to their usefulness as pest controllers, plant polarizers, seed dispersers and ecosystem cleaners, being dispersed all over the planet and present in all habitats, are the first  bio-indicators of the health of the planet. While the decline of a respectable number of birds warns of the effects of the environmental crisis, the behavior of those that survive indicates, without a doubt, the acceleration of its advance.


Finding abandoned nests, dead birds and naturally desiccated by the effects of high temperatures, made the artist see the situation as another opportunity to establish a dialogue that would help to promote a new and urgent ecological vision in the viewer. 

The exhibition includes a total of 14 pieces “A vuelo de pájaro” is the point of departure and in this book Rivera documents her investigation about birds. 

 Some pieces are made from found birds or nests combined with delicate materials such as gold leaf, ceramic, glass and crochet. These works recall  artifacts from ancient cultures carrying sacred meaning.  Other pieces, not containing animals parts, are recreations of birds. Durable materials, such as concrete, metal and wire are used instead. 


The concern over the disappearance of these species seems to be alleviated by the exercise of preserving and recreating these animals, embedded in the creation process of Dhara Rivera.


The exhibition also includes the mimicking of the Huia’s call, an extinct bird from New Zeland (obtained from Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University) and a video with the music by the composer Pablo Casals “El Canto de los pajaros” (The song of the birds) dedicated to the freedom birds transmit.