Bird Migration Authority

The EU Bird Migration Authority (2013) is a fictional agency created while Ian Alan Paul was participating in an artist residency at the HomeSession project in Barcelona, Spain. The project acts as an investigation into the politics and ethics of the policing of human migration, and also explores the conceptual divide between human and animal migrants. Much of the materials used in the project are repurposed/remixed media from Frontex’s archives.

On the project website, visitors are greeted with the message:

“The Bird Migration Authority (BMA) is a project of Frontex and the European Union that aims to monitor and mitigate the ongoing migration of non-native bird populations between EU member states and neighbouring countries. In collaboration with Frontex and using state of the art surveillance and tracking technologies, the BMA not only monitors migrating bird flocks across North Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, but also uses predictive algorithms to assist in the apprehension and reduction of foreign species. Tracking and managing the bird populations across the EU member states will serve to better protect the European Economy, Ecology, and Society from the threats posed by unregulated migrating bird flocks.”

In addition to existing as a conceptual website and critical fiction, the project also incorporates video, photography, and maps that are organized in the form of a gallery installation. Much of the project was inspired by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s writings in “Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life,” where he reflects on the distinction between human life and bare life, and the kinds of ethics this division prefigures: “In any case, however, the entry of zoē into the sphere of the polis – the politicization of bare life as such — constitutes the decisive event of modernity and signals a radical transformation of the political-philosophical categories of classical thought.”