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A0024-Waanders, Fishing Perches

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The first time Dutch artist Hans Waanders saw a kingfisher, it was 1982. Despite its near-ubiquitous status—various species of kingfisher can be found on nearly every continent—the occurrence left him transformed. Alec Finlay, a friend of Waanders, later translated the event into words: “a sudden flash of blue, flash of gold, iridescent; just above the water’s surface.” Waanders dedicated years to the bird, creating hundreds of prints and artist’s publications based on its habits and specifications. Most of these works involved an obsessive reordering of images and excerpts from birding guides, culminating in a series of new “guides” that feature kingfishers exclusively. In 1999, however, Waanders went into the field, installing a series of perches on bodies of water in various parts of Europe, including France, Scotland, and The Netherlands. Kingfishers hunt and fish by swooping down off such resting places; Waanders’ perches, small and unobtrusive sticks usually located along rocky or muddy banks, were meant as open invitations. “Fishing Perches,” a limited edition, offset, accordion-style artist’s publication published by Pont La Vue Press in New York, documents some of them. The book evidences a sense of humor, but also loss. Despite the proof of his devotion, the kingfisher never appears—we are left, like Waanders, staring at negative space.

–Danielle Sommer