“We were standing at the edge of an uncovered compost area with the child. Rest of the children were further away. The area was filled with birds scavenging for food. A Seagull flew over our heads. ‘That’s a SHITgull!’ said the boy pointing at the bird. ‘My dad says they’re SHIT birds and they ought to be SHOT’ he said, looking at me.
The shitgull as a child–within–nature configuration was a fleeting bond that was simultaneously enabled by and transgressed the boundaries of ‘child’ and ‘nature’. The bird was looking for food when we interrupted him. Leftover food that had been collected from humans and dumped in the huge open compost. Causing seagulls, ravens, crows and magpies to flock and populate the compost heaps, attracting also rats and smaller rodents. Causing the landfill personnel to put up scarecrows and nets to which the birds would get tangled and hang flapping upside down until their slow death. Because of eating human waste. Shit. The relation between the Seagull and the boy was that of mutual disaffect and avoidance – of categorical, concrete and symbolic using of each other. The Seagull for food, the boy for seeking a let out for his feelings and confusion over his dad, it seemed. Without the bird, the boy could not have been an unhappy, angry, death-wishing child – an adamant and intentional non-child. Knowing that I take care of injured birds, plenty of seagulls included, his wish for the bird to be dead, pointed at me, was especially weighty. As the child declined his childness the bird declined his wildness. He survived on human waste and witnessed his fellow gulls dying, tangled in the nets above the compost. The ‘shitgull’ was an event of ill-being for all involved; yet it was an event of the utmost interdependence. An interdependence gone wrong.”
The AniMate team – Pauliina, Riikka, Riitta-Marja and Tuure – proudly present a fresh from the press paper on child-nature/animal relations!
(or ask Pauliina)
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