THE PARROTS OF DK GAZA
(Saint Petersburg, Russia)
Inside a parrot’s brain, there are special groups of interconnected neurons called “vocal nuclei” responsible for vocal learning. Thanks to these vocal nuclei, a parrot can learn and reproduce human words and phrases. In different families, parrots are taught phrases and expressions peculiar to that family and its unique atmosphere. Parrots are also often able to single out and learn words from natural conversation.
In the DK Gaza, next to the cloakroom, there used to be a bird cage with several parrots. Nobody remembers when it got there; it disappeared somewhere in the 1990s. Inside it were over twenty parakeets of various colors. They were looked after by a projectionist called Dmitry, who later began working at the Progress cinema and took the bird cage with him when he left.
The artist recreated the look of the birdcage based on eyewitness accounts, and gave the birds a voice. A choir of parrots utters the “tag cloud” of this place—a stream of words and phrases that are connected to the palace of culture, its history, and the adjacent Kirovsky Zavod factory. The same words that were heard here in the past hang in the air to this very day, broadcast by the parrots, who, like impassionate witnesses, recreate the atmosphere of a particular place and make history audible.
Born in 1985, Anna Martynenko lives and works in St. Petersburg. After studying Scenography at the Theater Arts Academy (now the Russian State Institute of Performing Arts), she took part in various theater projects as a set designer. Since 2014, she has been working as a media artist, creating objects, installations, site-specific and public art projects. Anna graduated from the School of Young Artists (a project of the PRO ARTE Foundation) and the New Media Laboratory (at the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theater). She has been a participant of group exhibitions, fairs and festivals, while her personal projects have been exhibited at the Sound Museum, FFTN Gallery, Nepokorenye 17 studio. In her works, she researches communication and language systems, observes and transforms various kinds of information, including working with sound.