The Pigeon Project

MAYA JAGGER

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Nothing was 

just because

UGLY

THE WORLD SAID SO...

The dove is a symbol of peace and the departed soul, one of the earliest companions of man, revered as " divine messengers". Somewhere along the way, the Victorians loved them and bred them until they weren't fashionable anymore, which is why the feral pigeon is so diverse in plumage. And despite mistreatment they still stick around the toxic human race. Love is passed down the line. 

 

The word "hero" was thrust upon the carrier pigeon as he was called up to the MI14 Pigeon Service in the 1940s. Huge casualties. 32 pigeons - that's more than cats, dogs and even horses - have been awarded the Dickin Medal for their courageous deeds, which is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. Man owes his life to the pigeon. It interests me that Animal Aid have swapped the Purple Poppy to a paw, so it fails to recognise horses or pigeons who lost their lives.

 

Then, in the 1980s Woody Allen sneeringly dismissed the pigeon as the "flying rat". It all goes a bit bloody downhill from there really. Pigeon spikes. Getting kicked to death. Chased. Abused. These beautiful, highly intelligent birds...  If they are neglected its a fortunate day for them.

My documentary style was influenced by William Eggleston, and my poem is in response to the 2nd stanza of this beautiful poem, Valentine for Ernest Mann, on perspective and seeing beauty where others only see ugliness. It is also based on a personal observation that society treats these birds based on a name and plumage. The pure white Dove and mucky, motley-feathered feral pigeon are the same bird. Yet one is idolised and the other is shunned. Ask yourself, why? 

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“What are you doing for your project?” asked Fanny, out of the blue.

“Pigeons.” I said.

“Pigeons?

“Yes, pigeons.”

“Pigeons? Why are you basing your project on pigeons?”

Because… People treat them like shit. Society mistreats them and no one sees the beauty in them.”

“Well they are flying rats to be fair.”

“…”

“So what do you find beautiful about pigeons?”

I stop to think about this before I begin to answer. Everything, really. I love how different they all are. I love their plumage and how they move… Everything.”

“You should have done it about a swan.” She said as she turned away, after a brief pause.

SOME PEOPLE IT WILL FLY STRAIGHT OVER THEIR HEAD

NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO

I chose to document the lives of repulsive, “flying rats” that I absolutely adore. I replied “But they aren’t ordinary. Everyone thinks swans are beautiful… That’s missing the whole point of the brief.” Swans are associated with elegance and grace. Everybody has respect and admiration for the swan. 

I frequently heard myself coming out with things like “I know it sounds a bit daft to you, but it’s not daft to me” and I began to wonder why. Why didn’t people take the brief seriously? While I can laugh along, the abuse pigeons recieve is beyond the joke now. In the media we see pigeons being left to die, impaled and kicked to death… And no one seems to care.