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

PVF 2021: Bird's-Eye view

What if a crow could take photographs? What kinds of photos would it take? What would the world look like through the eyes of a bird? The Festival of Political Photography 2021: Bird’s-Eye View reflects, through photography, on the capacity of humans to imagine the perspective of birds and to understand the world in an alternate way through that lens.

Organised for the fifth time, the festival deals with the ways in which the photograph brings to light the relationships between birds and humans as well as between humans and the rest of nature. For more than 180 years now, the camera has been an ally to the human eye as well as an outstanding mechanical aid.

Cameras have helped us to obtain information on nature, facilitated the classification of species and made it possible for us to see the world from an expansive bird’s-eye view. Camera optics mimics the structure of the human eye. It turns nature into an image.

The festival also deals with what cannot be seen. The accelerating disappearance of birds and other species from our midst is almost invisible. Biodiversity is not merely about an abundance or variety of species. Instead, it is above all about a network of interspecific interactions, evolved over millions of years, where every change impacts the greater whole and has unpredictable consequences. The role of humanity is also deeply entwined in that network. 

In addition to the exhibition, the festival theme is discussed on the festival website through a podcast series, video interviews, a discussion event as well as texts. The introductory text unpacking the theme of the festival is available on the festival website in Finnish, English, Swedish, Northern Saami, Russian, Arabic and Somali.

Info 2021:


Photographers, artists and other creators  

Camille Auer, Marek Jancovic, Hiwa K, Demelza Kooij, Jorma Luhta, Kristo Muurimaa & Juho Kerola, Tuula Närhinen, Anne Roininen, Rorhof, Leena Saarinen, Francesca Todde and Under Threat Working Group.


The Finnish Museum of Photography:
Bird’s-Eye View 8.10.2021 – 6.1.2022
Open Tue–Sun 11–18, Wed 11–20
The Cable Factory, Tallberginkatu 1 G, Helsinki


Meet the Artists at the museum:
8.10.2021 from 4pm to 5.30pm
The Cable Factory, Tallberginkatu 1 G, Helsinki

Come to follow the exposure of an entire tree with cyanotype technique (in Finnish):
9.11.2021 from 11am to 2pm
Uutela outdoor area Uutelan kota (Särkkäniemi 5, Helsinki)
More information about the event (Only in Finnish)

Cyanotype workshop (in Finnish):
9.11.2021 from 11am to 2pm
Uutela outdoor area, Uutelan kota (Särkkäniemi 5, Helsinki)
More information about the workshop (Only in Finnish)

Public talk about Nature photography (in Finnish):
Participants: Antti Haataja, Ritva Kovalainen, Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger and Juha Suonpää
1.12.2021 at 6 pm
The Cable Factory, Tallberginkatu 1 G, Helsinki
More information about the talk

Supporters and partners 2021

Camille Auer: Phenomenological Birdwatching, 2021

Camille Auer is studying cis*- and heteronormativity** in popular nature discourse and trying to find out whether birds agree to the taxonomical roles patriarchal*** science assigns to them. Her method for doing this is using her mirror cells to identify with the birds in a reverse act of anthropomorphism. She is working on a video piece about Ruffs (Calidris pugnax) that aims to queer the form and content of the genre of nature documentary films.

Phenomenological Birdwatching is a mindmap of Camille Auer's ongoing artistic research with birds. A mindmap can be a method of nonlinear writing in itself, not only a tool to formulate traditional linear texts. The viewer can imagine the essay that this mindmap might turn into, and it will be different for each viewer. The mindmap was made spontaneously after half a year of thinking and casually observing city birds in Turku.

Auer’s essay Luonto ei ole hetero – Ajatuksia suokukoista, sukupuolesta ja seksuaalisuudesta [Nature Isn’t Straight – Thoughts on Ruffs, Gender and Sexuality], published in niin & näin journal in January 2021, is available in Finnish on the festival website at pvf.fi

Camille Auer (b. 1984) is a writer, artist and performer interested in societal designations of selfness and otherness. In her work, she searches for the point where theory bleeds into action. Auer lives and works in Turku, Finland.

A cisgender person is a person who is content with the sex assigned to them at birth and usually expresses their gender accordingly. The prefix cis is derived from Latin meaning “on this side of”. Its antonym is trans, meaning “across from” or “on the other side”.

Heteronormativity refers to the assumption of the gender binary, that people are divided into two opposite forms of masculine and feminine who experience attraction to each other. As a result of this, heterosexuality is seen as more normal, natural and desirable than other sexual orientations.

Patriarchy refers to society and knowledge dominated by men.

Marek Jancovic: Avian Technics, 2021

Avian Technics investigates the tensions between humans, birds and technology. Birds, in particular, have been playing an increasingly important role in our understanding of the planet. There are networks that monitor the movement of hundreds of thousands of birds around the world. This type of tracking technology produces an enormous amount of data. Jancovic proposes that we can also interpret this data as stories: Hidden in the spatial information are the narratives of individual living beings navigating an increasingly inscrutable environment. These are stories of life and extinction, but also of resilience.

Avian Technics is a work that was made specifically for the 2021 Festival of Political Photography – Bird’s-Eye View from Jancovic’s essay Animal Technics: On Borders and the Labour of Knowing the World. The essay reveals how animals perform new forms of labour and produce knowledge in the service of humans. The essay is available at pvf.fi in Finnish and English. Animal Technics: On Borders and the Labour of Knowing the World was commissioned by Fotomuseum Winterthur for SITUATIONS/Posthuman, 2018.

Marek Jancovic (b. 1987) is a media scholar whose primary interest lies with the mutual interactions and interferences between media technology and society. He is fascinated by global bird tracking systems because they ultimately put into perspective not just the animals they follow but also make visible our own place in the world. Jancovic hopes that the artwork will encourage visitors to consider the work that birds do in establishing new relations of visibility – a visibility that is necessary for our own survival. Jancovic is from Slovakia and works as Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Hiwa K: View from above, 2017

Hiwa K’s video piece View from Above tells the story of a refugee from Iraq to Europe where the significance of map pictures taken from a bird’s-eye view supersedes reality. To be granted asylum, the person in the story must learn a new past for himself that better matches the criteria set for eligibility for asylum. For this he uses aerial photographs and a map.

During the past decades, many refugees have migrated from Iraq to Europe. The UN classifies the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq as a safe zone, unlike the rest of Iraq. A person seeking asylum must prove they come from the unsafe zone in order to be granted asylum. The area defined as safe is very large, and the definition does not reflect reality. For this reason, many must tell lies and claim to come from elsewhere, from an area classified as unsafe.

The piece is a multi-layered depiction of the chasm between reality and the bureaucratic eye. Many who arrive in Europe seeking asylum are viewed only through the lens of the latter.

Hiwa K (b. 1975) is an artist and musician from Kurdistan, Iraq, who currently lives in Germany.