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Janice Kerbel

JANICE KERBEL’S WORK improbably melds dreamy, escapist longing with the meticulous research of a botanist or a rigorous master thief. By coupling these two modes of thought, she addresses questions of ecology, tourism, surveillance, and urbanism with an uncommon poetry, as in The Bird Island Project, 2000–2002. The work began with Kerbel fantasizing about a paradise where she could holiday but ended up as a precise representation of a fictitious yet geologically possible atoll in the Bahamas. Ready for tourist development, the island is inhabited by the Exuma Emerald, a bird that’s utterly imaginary yet ecologically feasible—a point that Kerbel ensured by working with an ornithologist to determine how the bird might look and sound. Ultimately, the project came to comprise a promotional text, an Internet site, various drawings and maps, and a CD of the mysterious Exuma Emerald’s calls.

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