Born out of a lifelong fascination with science photography and nature documentaries, Perroquet showcases a body of work by fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø, comprising a short film and a selection of photographs. Keen to produce imagery that didn’t fall into the traditional genres of photography, this project’s central focus is the perroquet, a type of small, slender, long-tailed parrot. This particular subject matter couldn’t be more removed from Sundsbø’s lavish editorial spreads and striking campaign imagery, although his reasons for choosing this particular species do, in a way, relate to fashion. Possessing almost sartorial qualities, it was the bird’s trademark vibrant plumage that piqued the photographer’s interest. Sundsbø looks to this as fashion on an evolutionary scale: compared to the fast-paced, demanding nature of the fashion calendar and the many ‘looks’ each season produces, this creature’s stunning ‘outfit’ has taken centuries to develop.
Conventional fashion photography allows the image-maker to draw on a wealth of outside creative resources - be it a hair-stylist, make-up artist, or fashion stylist - to enable them to realise their intentions. In Perroquet, the subject matter encouraged Sundsbø to take a somewhat different approach, focusing on one specific element: the movement of the bird in flight. It was always Sundsbø’s chief intention to document the perroquet using photography and film; both mediums enabling him to steal moments that would normally be missed. Shot in a controlled studio environment using high-speed cameras, the slow-motion short shows the bird mid-flight. The distinct physical characteristics of the perroquet – its strong curved bill, and its clawed feet– are all visible, but it is the bird’s feathers that are the central focus. Sundsbø also gives special consideration to the bird’s slender silhouette, by cleverly incorporating shots of its shadow. The photographs present ‘frozen moments’ of the bird’s journey; rather than showing its full body, the cropped viewpoints bring abstract qualities to Sundsbø’s powerful images.
The Perroquet film and images were exhibited August–September 2008 at the Gun Gallery, Stockholm and Colette, Paris.