Part poetic gesture and radical expression, Speechless addresses the power of language within political contexts and our ability to understand and discuss environmental degradation. The work was inspired in part by recent debate in Florida's state government regarding the use of 'controversial' terms such as climate change and global warming.
Speechless draws on the uncanny ability of parrots to learn to speak human speech as a way of exploring the Aristotelian notion that we are political animals, constantly engaged in attempts to influence and govern one another. Historically, the human capacity for verbal language has been used as a
By incorporating animals that potentially literally speak back to us, Bik Van der Pol envision a situation in which language serves as a bridge, to get the message across, and perhaps as a way to unite, rather than to divide, humans from animals, with hopes that this reunification may help us to address the urgent ecological crises that we face today.
Speechless is made in the context of PAMM's Researcher-in-Residence program, which provides a supportive context for research and an opportunity both to benefit from and stimulate South Florida's unique cultural resources, setting and community. Curator: René Morales. Breeder: Simbad's Birds and Pets. Voice performers: Rachel Carey, Susanna Browne, Vasiliki Sifostratoudaki, Mat Do, Natalia Sorzano and Manuel Segada. The parrots in this work, Cleo, David, Paco, Zach and Jany, are on loan to the museum. They were bred in captivity and regularly appear in a variety of public capacities, such as movies, commercials and public events. While at PAMM, their care is being managed by one of the nation’s leading avian veterinarians. Following the exhibition, they will be returned to their Miami home, where they will continue to live together.