Κοτσινόχωμαν – Red Soil

Exhibition at the A.G. Leventis Gallery
20.09 - 09.10.2022

BirdLife Cyprus in collaboration with the A.G. Leventis Gallery is organising a different kind of exhibition this autumn.

The collaborative exhibition ‘Kochinohoma – Red Soil’ tells the story of the illegal killing of migratory birds in Cyprus, through a post-mortem inquiry into the unfortunate way they meet their end.

The timing of the exhibition is intentional, as birds in their millions are leaving Europe to seek the milder climates of Africa during winter. To these migratory birds that fly thousands of kilometres to their wintering grounds, Cyprus offers refuge along the way. For many however, this route turns out to be fatal.

‘Kochinohoma – Red Soil’ is the result of multiple collaborations between creatives, led by photographer Silvio Augusto Rusmigo, and designers Omiros Panayides and Thalis Nicolaou. The project has taken the form of a book-artefact, a documentary film, as well as an interactive installation. These elements come together to transport the viewer to a figurative crime-scene, bringing them close to the objects, sounds and landscapes that make up this illegal activity, while confronting them with some hard-hitting truths on the magnitude of this problem. Through this experience, the exhibition invites the viewer to delve into the multifaceted environmental and cultural issue of wildlife crime in Cyprus, raising questions about individual responsibility as well as collective action. 

BirdLife Cyprus' campaign against illegal bird trapping

Illegal bird trapping with mist nets and limesticks is a widespread and serious problem in Cyprus. It is an illegal, non-selective, and cruel practice mostly carried out at hotspot areas in Larnaca and Famagusta districts. It involves the indiscriminate and large-scale killing of thousands of birds every year, with the worst year, since our records began 20 years ago, being 2014 with an estimated 2.5 million birds killed. To tackle this problem, our work focuses on three main categories: systematic monitoring, lobbying and educational and awareness-raising outreach. 

The ‘Κοτσινόχωμαν – Red Soil’ project is one such example of awareness-raising and advocacy, led by photographer Silvio Augusto Rusmigo, and designers Omiros Panayides and Thalis Nicolaou. With funding from the MAVA Foundation, BirdLife Cyprus supported these artists to delve into the illegal killing of birds in Cyprus and present the problem through their own creative process. The result speaks for itself.

The Documentary

The ‘Κοτσινόχωμαν – Red Soil’ documentary directed by Costas Drakos, explores the creative process of the team – led by Silvio Augusto Rusmigo, Thalis Nicolaou and Omiros Panayides – and takes a deeper dive into the issue of the organised wildlife crime that plagues Cyprus.

The film deals with the environmental, societal and cultural aspects of illegal killing of migratory birds in Cyprus. It presents raw footage from the field and interviews with key people fighting this battle from different sectors, including the police and non-governmental organisations, as well as the creators of the film who share their personal opinions and experiences.

The Book

The ‘Κοτσινόχωμαν – Red Soil’ book (2021) by photographer Silvio Augusto Rusmigo in collaboration with designer Omiros Panayides, recounts how these birds are trapped and killed, partly through what remains: the confiscated trapping paraphernalia and the artificial landscapes that lure them into their ephemeral home. The descriptions add to this inquiry, by drawing on a nostalgic, extinction-inferring note. The narrative is inspired by bird-watching guides, communicating the intense interest that birds cause in their passage.

 

 

 

 

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