The Sky Only Welcomes Those With Wings is a project consisting of a photobook and a photo – portrait series entitled Messengers (2022). Adopting a style of creative documentary from the vantage points of humans and birds alike, this photo-driven project explores topics of migration, border ecologies and ornithomancy, also known as the ancient practice of reading omens from the actions of birds.
Messengers, features migratory birds entangled in nets on the remote Greek island of Antikythera, a key stopover location in the migration of birds between Europe and Africa. Upon capture, the ornithological method known as “bird ringing” is used to collect the biometric data of each winged subject before they’re ultimately set free with a metal identification tag. This process of data extraction appears to concentrate on scientific value and thrusts these subjects into the role of “messengers” of environmental changes and hardships. Contrariwise, these portraits offer aesthetic and poetic possibilities in conveying the complex, bittersweet reality that unfolds on Antikythera: beyond the frame — the scientists and volunteers expressed their lifelong passion for the species they study. While the framing of these birds evokes museum- style taxidermy, their awkward poses allude to and question the impositions of human made systems of classification and control over the natural world.
Bryony Dunne is an Irish visual artist and filmmaker who engages with the overlap between documentary film, cinema, photography, and the natural world. She develops research-driven projects to explore the power dynamics between humanity and nature and fantasies of human control, oftentimes using fact-based fictions and hypothetical futures to build these interconnected narratives. Her work has been exhibited at the Mosaic Rooms (London), Gypsum and Townhouse galleries (Cairo), the Irish Film Institute (Dublin), DEPO (Istanbul), among other venues, and she has participated in a number of international film and video festivals, including the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival (Greece), Cork International Film Festival (Ireland), and Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin. At present, she is a resident at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht.