Bryony Dunne, The Sky Only Welcomes Those with Wings

This portrait series entitled ‘Messengers’ features migratory birds entangled in mist nets on the remote Greek island of Antikythera, a key stopover location that hosts thousands of flocks during their biannual flights 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 alone while thrusting these subjects into the role of “messengers” of environmental changes and challenges. Contrariwise, these portraits emphasize aesthetic and poetic value as a way of conveying the complex, bittersweet reality that unfolds on Antikythera: beyond the frame — between capture and release — the scientists and volunteers spoke endlessly about their lifelong passion for the species. While the framing of these birds evokes museum-style taxidermy, their awkward and harrowing poses allude to and question the impositions of human made systems of classification and control over the natural world. She is currently in the process of determining an appropriate solution for exhibition display as she is keen to exhibit them as large glass slides – mimicking the documentation of a “scientific specimen” used to project archival slide images.


Bryony Dunne is an Irish visual artist and filmmaker living and working between Wicklow (Ireland) and Athens. Building on her background in documentary photography and visual anthropology, she explores the relations between humanity and nature, the arbitrariness of cultural representation, and the fantasies of human control. She has exhibited her work at venues such as BAHAR – Istanbul’s offsite project of Sharjah Biennial 13, The Mosaic Rooms (London), The Gypsum and Townhouse Gallery (Cairo), the Irish Film Institute (Dublin) and DEPO (Istanbul), and has participated with her films at a number of International film and video festivals such as Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival (Greece), Aesthetica (UK) and Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin. A recent film project, Above the Law, was supported by Screen Ireland and premiered at Cork International Film Festival. In 2020 she was a recipient of a Film Project Award from the Arts Council of Ireland to work on her first feature film entitled Pembe about the death of the last northern white male rhinoceros. In 2021 she was selected to participate at the Jan Van Eyck academy in the Netherlands.