Above the Law / 2017 / 20″

Stage: Research


Every day at the break of dawn, a Cairo-based pigeon breeder named Hanan Badier unlatches the doors of his coop. By nightfall, the pigeons return since their basic needs are being met there. Should their survival necessitate migration one day, Hanan points out, “there’s no law that determines where and when pigeons can fly; they don’t have a law like humans do.”

As aerial footage of Cairo extends over the Mediterranean Sea, a refugee in Athens and an asylum seeker in Dublin each detail their escape from war to the shores of Europe. An animated map depicting the popular intercontinental routes of migratory birds is superimposed with the refugee trail, revealing parallel journeys across the same geographies.

The aerial footage will be captured using “pigeon photography,” which is a technique that was invented in 1907 by a German apothecary who fitted a pigeon with a miniature camera. Today, some conservationist groups tag birds with devices that track their migratory routes.