A living musical exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will set 70 zebra finches loose in an aviary, and the only perches are the strings of 14 electric guitars and bass guitars.
When the birds land, they create music that’s played through amplifiers stationed around the aviary.
French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot calls it living music, inspired by a thought from his childhood.
“Looking through the window, my feeling was that I want to make music from these birds on the wire, and 30 years later I did this,” he said.
Visitors will be escorted in to the exhibition room 25 at a time and asked to walk calmly through the installation. They are also part of the musical creation, as the birds react to their presence.
Curator Marie-Eve Beaupré said this is a highly unusual undertaking for a museum.
Every morning, a clean-up crew tidies the room, and the birds get regular visits from a veterinarian to make sure they stay healthy.
This is the 19th time Boursier-Mougenot has created this installation. It’s travelled to New York, Paris, Milan, and it’s making its Canadian premiere in Montreal.
The finches hail from a breeder in Thetford Mines. They’ll go back home once the exhibition closes on March 27.
A note for the musically savvy: The instruments in the installation are ten white Gibson Les Paul guitars and four black Gibson Thunderbird basses.
Interview from the Peabody Essex Museum and view of installation:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn93J2axD_k