press release

Klara Hobza's work cycle “The Epic Return of the European Starling” found its origin in the following story:

In 1890, the Acclimation Society of North America decided to bring all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays to the USA from Britain. Among them were 60 European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), because Shakespeare had mentioned them in Henry IV. The birds were released in New York City's Central Park. Since then, the European Starling has spread very successfully in North America, and today we count over 200 million. Many regard the European Starlings as pests for destroying crops and stealing native species' nesting cavities. They are colonial breeders that are considered aggressive and noisy--an invasive species.

In her role as a European, Klara feels guilty about the trouble the European Starlings are causing. She decided to capture 60 Starlings in Central Park, send them back to England, and release them in Buckingham Palace Park.

Klara has been working on this subject since summer 2005. Within the topic, she has already produced a huge variety of works, spanning the genres of video, installation, performance, magazine intervention, illustration, and performative lectures. As of today, she still intends to continue her project until all 60 starlings are back London.

The body of work orbiting around the task of "Nay, I'll Have A Starling" is essentially a fable on topics of immigration and ownership of land and nature.

For her exhibition at Koh-I-Noor, Klara is creating five new, site-specific pieces: One ceiling fresco, one wall piece, one double portrait with 17th century 3D effect, one illustrated booklet and one Z-trap. For the first time, the artist steps out of her comfort zone of performance art to create a purely visual exhibition. The artist says: “Within my body of work around the European starling and bird migration, it is high time to venture further into the systems of visual language. This show might turn into quite an embarrassment, but since Koh-I-Noor allows for actual experimentation, I wanted to do what I know how to do the least: to paint.”

Formally, each piece deals with what the artist calls “perverted symmetry.” The illustrated booklet narrates the return of the European starling to Europe. The double portrait unfolds what the bird, which is looking at you from the side, sees on the other side. The wall piece called “Mortimer Go Home” borrows from the Rorschach inkblot test. Furthermore, it reminds you of German anti-American invasion graffiti from the cold war: “Ami Go Home.” Finally, the symmetry of the large Z-trap in the back room of Koh-I-Noor is rather banal.

At the center of this exhibition is a ceiling fresco. Upon entering, it is ambiguous whether an old fresco is being uncovered or restored, or a new one is being painted. However, the artist is finalizing her fresco during the duration of this show. On the last day, she will embed a secret message for the afterworld, and then paint over it. The fresco, including its message, will be uncovered again in 120 years.

To find out more about this enigmatic exhibition, please stop by during open hours or send an email to request a private tour.

Klara Hobza
The Epic Return of the European Starling