For the Birds

Site Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition For the Birds, featuring artists Emily Bates (UK), Justin Bennett (UK), Luke Fowler (UK), Haroon Mirza (UK), Vladimir Nikolic (SRB), Rory Pilgrim (UK), Support Structure (Celine Condorelli (FR) and Gavin Wade (UK)) and Katarina Zdjelar (SRB). The artworks in the exhibition look at songs and music as a social phenomenon – particularly in relation to its manipulative, participatory, and activating qualities in the public realm.
The title playfully references the fact that music is a political tool, taken from John Cage’s publication For the Birds: John Cage in Conversation with Daniel Charles.[1] 
The participating artists deal with the ‘sociality’ of music, the processes at work in the production and consumption of music within particular social and historical circumstances. Their works reflect upon various types of sound, song and music, varying from background music, national anthem, choir music, and the Islamic call for prayer.
Arrangements and processes implicit in the production, reception or consumption of these are being examined through various artistic strategies. Inextricably linked to this are implications for the highly debated issue of cultural and social identity. This is not to say that music merely reflects or expresses existing social and cultural differences; issues of region, race, age, gender, language, or class are very significant to our understanding of music.
By including Luke Fowler’s experimental documentary on the composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-81) and Justin Bennett’s newly commissioned work about the disrupted performance of a musical piece by Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1969, For the Birds directly refers to a period in time when issues about inclusion, exclusion and participation caused heated debates in the Western music world.
This notion of participation, hierarchy and manipulation evokes the issue of songs and music in the (semi) public sphere, as an activating, manipulative or social binding tool, a notion very much present in the other works in this exhibition.
[1] Cage, John. For the Birds: John Cage in Conversation with Daniel Charles, New York: Marion Boyars, 1981, p. 11: ” … he asked me … whether my title was merely a joke. I said: No. I am for the birds, not for the cages in which people sometimes place them.”
Exhibition originated by SMART Project Space,

How much


Site Gallery, 1 Brown Street, Sheffield S1 2BS

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