Carsten Höller: The Loverfinch (1995) 

Baltic 42 contributions

Installation view as part of the exhibition Animalesque / Art Across Species and Beings (2019-2020)

The Loverfinch reveals a tradition found in Germany, to breed bullfinches and train them to learn to whistle a melody perfectly, a process which takes six to eight months, in isolation. 

Inspired by the 18th century German ornithologist Count of Rosenau, Höller’s The Loverfinch weaves together the process of teaching a melody to bullfinches with a love story featuring a village girl, an ornithologist and the birds he trained to seduce her. In the video, the same melody used by the artist and the ornithologist is also transmitted to the viewers, who may also learn it by listening to it being repetitively played.

Carsten Höller holds a doctorate in agricultural science and worked as a research entomologist until the mid-1990s. His artworks have a strong experiential nature, often resembling scientific experimentation.

Bullfinches are passerine birds that breed across the woodland areas of Eurasia and have a characteristic fluted song. They keep the same partner for life and are usually seen in pairs or small groups. Considered a pest in the 16th century, they are currently an endangered species. The male bullfinches are distinctive with a bright pink-red breast and cheeks and a black cap. 

Bullfinches breed across the woodland areas of Eurasia and have a characteristic fluted song. They keep the same partner for life and are usually seen in pairs or small groups. Considered a pest in the 16th century, they are currently an endangered species.

 

A still image from The Loverfinch by Carsten Höller. His artworks have a strong experiential nature, often resembling scientific experimentation. Inspired by the 18th century German ornithologist Count of Rosenau, Höller’s The Loverfinch weaves together the artist’s process of teaching a melody to bullfinches with a love story featuring a village girl, an ornithologist and the birds he trainedto seduce her.

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November 20, 2023
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