The difference between a bird and a plane

Laura Malacart

Botanical garden 'Giardino dei Semplici'

from 1.00 pm
to 3.30 pm

year: 2021

length: 8'

language: english

VIDEO

“..when everything is ‘it’, living and non-living, our language cannot distinguish between a bird and a plane….Potawatomi can distinguish between a bird and a plane because it has two different verbs for listening: depending if you are listening to something animate or inanimate”


The Difference between a Bird and a Plane is a 3-episode film essay shot in Canada and inclusive of photographic materials from Canada and the UK. The film articulates three main arguments that foreground traditional philosophy, in order to problematise the values promoted by global capital when it comes to living beings, i.e. the planet. Episode 1 is indebted to the wonderful work of Robin Wall Kimmerer, a scientist of Native American heritage, who not only inhabits, but also  beautifully articulates the experience of a paradigm shift between a scientific and  a Native American approach to the study of plants.  By foregrounding an ethical approach she demonstrates the value of diverse ways of thinking as a counter strategy to an ideology that has led to natural exploitation and social injustice.

The difference between a bird and a plane

Laura Malacart is a visual artist working across media:  installation, moving image, performance, photography and text. Her practice is conceived as a strategy to explore contemporary and historical identities and their agency.  As per each project, the work is informed by research across the humanities, social sciences and sciences.  In this sense art practice is conceived as a methodology or a tool to open up dialogues, especially when it comes to questions around Othering, social justice and exploitation - of humans, living beings and the planet.
After studying Comparative Languages and Literatures in Italy, she was educated in fine art in the UK with a First Class BA at the University of Leeds (1993-97), an MA in Fine Art Photography at the Royal College of Art (1997-99) and a AHRC funded PhD  at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (2007-11). Her work has been disseminated in the UK and internationally via museums, institutions, residencies, screenings and project spaces.

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