Until February 22, the Miranda Gallery in Paris is showcasing delicate winged creatures depicted by the American photographer Terri Weifenbach. We encounter this nature lover who, in her garden in Washington, DC, captures the fleeting passage of blackbirds, chickadees, and other city birds…
If you are passing by the Miranda Gallery on a winter stroll through the 10th Arrondissement in Paris, you might cross paths with Terri Weifenbach. A hot cup of tea in one hand, she might explain in her silky voice how she manages to photograph the winged inhabitants of trees.
“I don’t sit around waiting for them; they call out to me,” explained the photographer when asked how she goes about approaching such timid creatures. “There is a sort of connection between us, I don’t try to rationalize it, but when I hear them chirping outside my window, I know I can go out and take photos and they won’t fly away.”
One with nature
Treading gently, the soul of calm, the photographer serenely inches toward the birds and often places her camera right on the ground. A swaying flower or a fluttering wing might blend with the clear outline of a tree trunk or a sparrow perched on a branch. Sometimes Weifenbach has to retake the photograph several times, but “knows” that she can count on the birds’ cooperation. Seasons change in her viewfinder, and with the seasons feathered friends come and go, strutting, flitting, preening, and performing all sorts of choreographies.
Weifenbach’s garden, a small urban paradise, proves one can remain in touch with nature even in the middle of a city. “One musn’t tend to it too much,” advises the artist. “It’s important, for example, to let autumn leaves decay on the ground to attract insects which the birds can then feed on.”
While there is still time
Beyond her fascination with birds, Weifenbach is concerned about ecology. Her daily contact with nature is a vivid reminder of the urgency of the environmental crisis. “Birds are disappearing, I don’t hear them as much as I used to,” Terri Weifenbach observes. This assessment is all the more distressing when we consider that sixty years ago the American conservationist Rachel Carson had already spoken of the “silencing of the birds” in her Silent Spring. Weifenbach is well familiar with the book.
As long as she can, while there is still time, the photographer continues to compile images of birds of all feathers. The gallery also features her series Centers of Gravity which, in shades of black and white, captures the slightest gestures of a bird taking flight, thus creating a poetic inventory of forms.
By Coline Olsina
Terri Weifenbach: Photos/Books
January 9 to February 22, 2020
Miranda Gallery, 21 rue du Château d'Eau, 75010 Paris