Registration procedure

Alexander Morozov’s Bird Registration is an ongoing art project a process. For several years the artist has been sketching flight paths, adding to a collection of sheets of paper that provide the background for thin flowing lines. Each drawing takes 10 minutes. The first works were done from the artist’s studio balcony, but later he began using making his observations from various other locations: he builds towers that allow him to get a better view of the sky. These “observation towers”, as the artist refers to them, were erected in Urals, Parnu, and Saint Petersburg, and have themselves become installations.

The observation and recording of bird flights raises the question of why, which is associated not only with the idea of an understanding of humans and nature from a place of love, or learning the language of the birds in order to convert them, but also with the practice of control, with the idea of total biopower as expounded by Michel Foucault. The word used by the artist — tower — (a reference to concentration camps), points to the accuracy of this interpretation. In 2015 the artist spoke concretely on this topic: his project Registration. Between contemplation and action, created for the 3rd Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Arts, combined an exhibit of these “registration sheets” with the idea of overcoming the predetermination of space. In creating the exhibit, the trajectories of the free movements of birds in the air was combined with the severe architectural structure that is the Iset Dormitory, constructed in the 1930s as part of an NKVD residential complex for employees. Upon combining these structures a formula arises: it is possible for the non-material and free to manifest via physical space. What arises is a kind of new, inverse type of cartography. Now it is not a rational human path being built through a wild and dangerous landscape, but rather the free-form geometry of birds’ flight that penetrates the artificial, strictly orthogonal system of “second nature”.
However, it’s not all that simple: “Eagles, swifts, swallows, and peregrines are caught in the trap of time and recorded in the diary of my travels”, writes the artist. In creating what he calls this “subversion” and using the project to break down the tiles of the Chekist hotel, the artist confesses that in a certain way he too has become a catcher of birds, or at least of their trails.

The performance aspect, too, is important to the artist. Morozov speaks of himself as a character from a road movie, whose main source of wealth is his free time. He compares himself to the proletarian, the man of production, tracked by the residents of the former NKVD living quarters. The aesthetic “product” of the artist cannot, of course, be assessed in the same manner as the industrial product of the worker. However, they can be compared with respect to time spent: the artist used exactly eight hours of labor time to create the drawings.