through the lens of international photographers

© Kyunghee Lee
© Yoshinori Mizutani
Birds - through the lens of international photographers

16 September – 3 December 2023

Humans have always dreamed of flying, but we still don't manage to do so in the same free manner as birds. Perhaps that is what makes them so fascinating to us. Their colourful feathers, graceful agility, the strength of their wings, seductive song and magical dance in the sky have inspired many artists over the centuries. The Grote Kerk Breda and Breda Photo have joined forces and bring together 14 top international photographers who give their own vision of these wondrous creatures in the exhibition Birds this autumn.
Dtch premiere

Albarrán Cabrera, Roger Ballen, Graciela Iturbide, Leila Jeffreys, Rinko Kawauchi, Michael Kenna, Kyunghee Lee, Christophe MaoutByung-Hun Min, Yoshinori Mizutani, Paolo Pellegrin, Bernard Plossu, Pentti Sammallahti and Terri Weifenbach are the photographers from eleven different countries, each giving their own artistic vision of birds. They have been brought together by Atelier EXB in the series of books Des oiseaux and now in an exhibition. In the Grote Kerk Breda, this exhibition under the Dutch title Vrije Vogels (Free Birds) will have its Dutch premiere. Moreover, the work of Kyunghee Lee, the most recent addition to the series, will be on display here for the first time.


Aviary of the world

Birds is like an aviary of the world, from familiar urban birds to those in faraway lands. The photographers’ different perspectives invite visitors to admire the birds in their habitat. Sometimes as rapidly passing shadows against the bright light of the sun, then again face to face in close-up. The photographs show the variety of worlds in which birds live and at the same time raise questions about threats to their habitats, of which climate change is the most alarming. That the exhibition takes place in the Grote Kerk Breda gives it an extra dimension; traditionally, birds and their wings have been seen as symbols of connection between man and the higher. Many people, for example Indians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Scandinavians, Brazilians and Mayans represented the divine spirit with wings. In the Grote Kerk Breda, too, we find a variety of birds and their symbolic meanings.

Co-production Atelier EXB

Curious about everything related to nature, science and art, renowned French publisher Xavier Barral launched in 2018 the series of books Des oiseaux which celebrates birdlife all over the world, as seen through the eyes of various photographers. When Xavier Barral passed away in 2019, the Atelier EXB team continued the series. The directors of the collection, Nathalie Chapuis and Philippe Séclier, extended the photo book series into an exhibition. Entitled Des oiseaux, the exhibition is based on an artistic bias and not on an animal or encyclopaedic approach. The diversity of views, just like that of latitudes, invites the visitor to explore the sky and the creatures that inhabit it.

The exhibition took flight in France at Galerie Le Château d’Eau in Toulouse (June to August 2022), then at Hangar, in Brussels (September to December 2022), and is currently on show at Sweden’s Landskrona Museum and Landskrona Foto (May to August 2023).

The Grote Kerk Breda and BredaPhoto have structurally been working together. During BredaPhoto Festival in 2020, the exhibition China Imagined was on show at the Grote Kerk Breda. For the next edition of the BredaPhoto Festival in 2022, both organisations have started to cooperate on content as well. The exhibition Space to Breathe by Newsha Tavakolian, which came about as a co-creation of both organisations, was a big success. It is therefore not surprising that the two organisations are joining hands in the non-festival year as well.

Birds is a co-production of the Grote Kerk Breda and Breda Photo and is created in close cooperation with Atelier EXB. The exhibition is made possible by the municipality of Breda.
Birds inspires Tina Farifteh

BredaPhoto would not be BredaPhoto if it did not show up-and-coming talent alongside established international photographers. In 2018, Iranian-Dutch artist Tina Farifteh was one of the students participating in the BredaPhoto International Talent Programme and showed her Killer Skies at the festival. She received many awards for her graduation project The Flood (2021), she curated an exhibition on Iranian artists at Melkweg Expo and is currently working on the documentary Kitten or Refugee. At Galerie Ecker, a stone’s throw from the Grote Kerk Breda, Tina Farifteh will show her own vision of Birds.

Discover Breda

The event programme of the exhibition Birds will link the subjects in the exhibition with the city of Breda in various ways. A visit to Birds can easily be extended with in-depth activities in and around the church. More information about this programme will follow later.

A historical city like Breda is also looking to the future. The Breda of tomorrow is a sustainable and green city where it is good to live. You will notice this when you explore the city. Be surprised by everything the city has to offer and feel welcome in hospitable Breda. More info:

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