John Gerrard, Endling (Martha) 2021, 2020.
Martha, the “endling” of the eight to ten billion American passenger pigeons, died in 1914. She was the last known living example of her species.
The simulation, Endling (Martha) 2021 by John Gerrard is based upon historic photographs of the bird. The artwork consists of a virtual portrait of Martha within her cage in Cincinnati Zoo where she lived out her days.
The industrialized destruction of the passenger pigeon population in the 19th Century is one of the most extreme examples of anthropogenic extinction in recorded history. The loss of the species holds a mirror to the rapacious expansionist endeavors of the century.
Commissioned by Borusan Contemporary, the work presents Martha as a hybrid data object in dialogue with photography, history and ecology. The uncanny gaze of Martha directed at the viewer raises questions regarding humankind’s impact on the ecosystem.