The protest pigeon, was part of a larger body of work, The Blue Flaneuse, that I presented at the Melbourne Fringe Festival (2017) at the Abbotsford Convent. It took the form of an outdoor roving puppetry piece that I performed each weekend of the Festival.
The Blue Flaneuse is a part bird, part Mary Poppins and part ‘Dickensian’ character that observes the growing space between those that have and those that do not, within the contemporary city landscape. As a response to what is observed, the Blue Flaneuse offers up the poem by Emily Dickinson, ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’ and explores the use of the bird as a metaphor for hope. The Protest Pigeon appears in the finale.
The Protest Pigeon was attempting to represent the everyday citizen and responded to the numerous global and local protests post Trump and the Australian ‘yes’ vote. Rebecca Solnit , the author/activist had just re-released her book , Hope in The Dark, as a response to Trump's Presidency. It speaks of the power in hope and I quoted her description of hope in my Fringe piece. She describes hope as,
"an embrace of the unknown and unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists...It is the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things you can know beforehand."
I loved this inspiring quote as it reminds us that there is a power in hope and that the individual can make a difference. In light of the Trump Presidency and the need to have a 'Yes' vote in Australia, these words captured an uncertainty I had felt.
So, in my Protest Pigeon piece I wanted to present a certain ambivalence around the notion of protesting and democracy and simultaneously highlight the power of the individual citizen.