Background Image:© Francesca Todde / Contrasto from the series A Sensitive Education
Background Image:© Francesca Todde / Contrasto from the series A Sensitive Education

Francesca Todde: A Sensitive Education, 2020

Francesca Todde’s series A Sensitive Education deals with the relationship between birds and humans through the work of bird educator Tristan Plot. Plot tames birds for theatre performances, ballets and films as well as developing ornitotheraphy (bird therapy) for people including inmates and depressed individuals.

As a child, Tristan Plot noticed that staying still for long periods of time in the woods caused birds to grow accustomed to him and start showing themselves. He continues to use this method of gradually approaching birds in his current work. The training technique developed by Plot is based on respecting the rhythm of nature and recognising the sensitivity of birds. The sensory world of birds is more expansive than that of humans and extends to areas lost by humans over the course of evolutionary development.

Plot seeks to position himself as part of the avian environment. His goal is to reduce environmental stress factors in order for birds to be able to better trust the human. For example, the posture of the trainer’s body and the intensity of their gaze are meaningful elements in the delicate sensory world of birds. In his work, Plot aims to recognise subtle and minimal events of interaction.

When following Tristan Plot’s work in the French countryside, Francesca Todde understood the importance of cultivating her own sensitivity in order to achieve mutual interaction with birds. The name of the book also refers to the photographer’s own experience of her relationship with other animals.

Francesca Todde (b. 1981) is an art photographer and publisher living in Milano. Her focus is on human-animal interspecificity and the potential for shared experiences.