Anaïs López, The Migrant: A Bird on the Run (2018)


It was in 2012 in Singapore that Anaïs López first came across the Javanmynah, a small black bird with a yellow beak and legs, a prominent crest, and a loud, raw call. It was this incessant noise outside her hotel window that caught her attention. The Migrant tells the turbulent life story of the Javanmynah. A member of the starling family, the bird is originally from Java (Indonesia) and was introduced in Singapore via the songbird trade in the early 20th century.


Following the Second World War, Singapore underwent rapid change, quickly transforming from a rubber trading post into a modern metropolis. In an effort to compete with the increasing urban noise, the mynah’s beautiful singing voice became a shrill screech. This did not fit the image of Singapore being a perfect city. The Straits Times, Singapore’s national newspaper, even described the mynah as “the new terrorist”. The Migrantaddresses broader themes such as the complex relationship between humans and animals, the consequences of rapid urbanisation, and the position of an unwanted outsider.


Anaïs López’s practice as photographer is characterised by looking for new ways to tell her stories. For each project she consciously steps outside the well-known paths of presentation formats traditionally suitable for photography. The Migrant is realised as a web documentary, and published on the website of the Dutch newspaper Trouw. Next to this online publication, a photobook in an edition of three has been produced; one of these copies is used by Lópeztotell the story in a theatrical performance. Another copy travels around the world, and may be borrowed by individuals who would like to read the story and share it amongst friends.


Anaïs López is a visual artist based in Amsterdam, who works with still and moving images. She graduated from the Royal Art Academy in The Hague in 2006 and completed a two-year Masters at Art Academy St. Joost in Breda, researching narrative structures and documentary strategies. In her current practice, photography has become more and more a means, and not an end in itself. The final presentation reflects the collaborations that she undertook during the work process of each project.

She is co-director of Docking Station, a photography platform based in Amsterdam that helps international photographers to move their stories forward.


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