Skip to main content

I kept a daily bird list for a year, recording every bird species I perceived between 3rd of January 2019 and 2nd of January 2020. The last time I kept a daily bird list was when I lived in New York from 2014-16, and during which time I realized I had a complicated affinity for house sparrows, as their colonial affect made me feel at home in the Americas due to our shared colonial history. Since 2014 I have been working with animals and the histories they carry. 

This new bird-list project made me aware of the multiple histories present in my urban everyday through the mixed flock of birds I encounter each day. It also made me aware of listening as an artistic material and decolonial device, able to interrupt and complicate established forms of classification and ordering that I otherwise rely on. 

The intention was always for these daily lists to produce paintings. I made some painting during 2019 while I was recording the birds, but most of the paintings would be made afterwards; painting is slower, and purposely so, it slows down my thinking of my relationships with companion species. Most of these paintings were made during lockdown. I found myself in isolation with my own recorded memories of multispecies encounters during a whole year of living without a global pandemic of this scale. 

There are some daily bird lists that don’t have any birds on them, because I was travelling or there was a big storm and I couldn’t leave the house, or in the latter summer because of the 2019 bushfires. I can only imagine what this list would look like during the pandemic. Producing painted records of these daily lists is even more important during isolation in 2020 than it was when I first started. Global, colonial, migratory, diasporic and anthropogenic histories coalesce around us each day, the histories of our multispecies encounters clearly document this. COVID-19 is a similarly global, colonial, migratory and anthropogenic marker that is coalescing around us each day, but it is much harder to document, much more difficult to have a companion relationship with. 

I’ve often thought about this while painting. Working in my studio in isolation I often hear or see a bird outside or flying over. I am not alone, these multispecies companions and their complicated histories are with me all the time, but so too is COVID-19 (the latter I am still working out how to co-habitate with). These paintings function Against Social Distancing by reminding me and their viewers, that we are never socially distant from our companion species and the knotted histories they carry.

These paintings will be presented in the solo exhibition by Fernando do Campo To companion a companion in January 2021 at Contemporary Arts Tasmania, Hobart; May 2021 at UNSW Galleries, Sydney; and mid 2022 at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth.

Back to top


Fernando do Campo (b. Mar del Plata, Argentina 1987) is an artist based in Sydney where he is Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design. Since 2015 he also produces work as the HSSH (House Sparrow Society for Humans). Fernando’s practice engages the histories of non-human animals via anthropomorphism, speculative fiction and archival research. The global south and the legacies of colonialism and modernism that hold these animal narratives are a focus for both his research and the material studio explorations. Recent projects have focused on the possibility of painting as a diaristic archival process and listening as a performative gesture through which to complicate the anthropocentric gaze of both the maker and viewer of artworks. Fernando has presented solo exhibitions in Australia and the USA and group exhibitions internationally. He is a Sir General John Monash Foundation Scholar and has received grants from the Australian Regional Arts Fund, Arts Tasmania, Ian Potter Cultural Trust, Australia Council for the Arts, Create NSW and The New School. Fernando is a friend of IPCS.


ASD Fernando do Campo


Other Articles

9 Nov 2020

Community vs Dormitory

What was the difference between “community” and, for the moment lets call it, “other” cases of coronavirus in Singapore?  Community transmission simply means the spread of the virus from person …