Hugo Baranger, Matthias Hurtl, Matias Romano Aleman

I covered my head as debris rained over me
Zagreb swamp.
Radio slowly buzzed. Fried liver smelling next door.
Birds flow. Empty grass beads.
Antena prototype.
Dark sunrise. Wood sticks hang from surface. Woodpecker.
The trash mountain smells like hell.

(Matias Romano Aleman)

„I covered my head as debris rained over me“ is joint research of three artists during the residential stay in Zagreb's galleries of Karas and Kamba: Hugo Baranger (FR), Matthias Hurtl (AT), and Matias Romano Aleman (AR), built around the story of an imaginary bird-watcher, set between the two focal points of this person's life: an observation point (set in Kamba), where the night sounds of feather city- dwellers are gathered from the microphones on its rooftop, and a studio (placed in Karas), where the machines for observing different avian behaviours are developed. Connecting the two sites of the story are the skies, the aether, and the ground to discover the life that flies, and intangible bonds of human communications with natural life, but also the pieces each leaves in the other.

The public space here manifests as a space of research and storytelling, where the three artists connect their different practices by using movement and collecting as tools to discover, share and present their work, separately, and here, together. The life of the imaginary person they created is a factor unknown, the only aspect we can see is in the dedication to the gentle awareness of the existence of creatures that fly, that sing, colorful and far. The rest of the life he or she lives is seen in small scattered pieces, without explanation or apparent connectivity. The birds, and a bird-watcher, are all gathered around the thematic axle of debris, on one side manifested as physical debris of human existence, both positive and negative, like collected lists, intimate objects of strangers, and space waste, on the other, intangible, like fragmented signals, pieces of distorted sounds, or borrowed lyrics. The Ornithological reserve Savica in Zagreb, where some of the sounds and visuals were collected, is a place where this manifestation of debris is apparent, where human structures and the scent of waste invade natural surroundings of seemingly intact nature.

The succession of elements of a bigger piece acts as a theatrical set of sorts, where visitors start a journey in the bird-observatory in Garage Kamba, where the devices for bird-listening surround themselves in sound compositions of human-made sounds, collected from wi-fi and satellite signals and images of birdlife gathered around Zagreb's urban and natural spaces. After observation, the road away starts, guiding the visitors through the soundscape of sounds of another kind, those composed of caught wi-fi signals, on the road to the studio where imaginarium of machines conceived is used to observe, to receive, to record, maybe understand birds, mixed with memorabilia which could give a hint of the person behind the story being told. The journey ends with the birds echoing through the traffic, the sound almost completely foreign to urban soundscapes, where the debris of natural sounds invade, if only for a moment, the streets, cars, and ears, to draw passers-by closer, not to hunt them, but to gather.

Marija Kamber