Paintings, Glass sculptures, Video art, Photographs, Digital art, Generative app, materials of the creative process.

Exhibition curated by Elisa Camesasca.

Monographic exhibition at FMAV – Fondazione Modena Arti Visive, Modena, 23 March – 10 June



Text from the exhibition brochure by Elisa Camesasca, curator

Like a bird flies
like a bird open
like a bird reveal yourself
like a bird connect yourself
like a bird bleed your pain
like a bird hatch  
like a bird disappear
like a bird go into the forest.
Everything emerges

Yuval Avital, exercise No. 55 from the performance manuscript About Birds, 2022


The exhibition created in the spaces of Fondazione Modena Arti Visive was created in close correlation with the premiere performance of the iconic-sonic work devised by Yuval Avital during 2020 imprisonment, when the entire world experienced the earth-shattering experience of the pandemic lockdown, and which took place on March 24, 2023, at the Pavarotti-Freni Municipal Theater in Modena.

Leaving on March 6, 2020, to spend a weekend at his family's country home, Avital found himself isolated for 101 days in the Biella foothills of the Alps and, like everyone else, uprooted from his life.

In this estranging situation, he writes a score out of the blue, which he titles About Birds, and in parallel he paints with watercolors, acrylics, India ink and tempera a numerous series of works depicting birds, triggered by an irrepressible and visceral need, as is typical of his modus operandi.

Perceived from time immemorial as animals endowed with special powers, birds throughout history have constantly fascinated humans, populating their symbolic universe in art, literature, music and film. […]


In Avital's work, however, birds take on an entirely different meaning: they are the jagged pieces of the mirror of his soul, reflected in multiple guises in a dense correspondence between one and many, between dream and reality, between microcosm and macrocosm. The artist divides himself between the self enclosed in an intimate, muffled dimension, forced between four walls, and the self stretched outward, toward that vital charge he cannot wait to find again.

And the key to understanding this project is delivered to us by Avital himself when he states:
"During the creative process I later understood that this artwork is not about birds. It is about me" (During the creative process I understood that this artwork is not about birds. It is about me)".


Looking at the pictorial works of the Birds series made by Avital in the first lockdown (March-June 2020), one comes into contact with a multitude of fantastical birds of different colors, sometimes anthropomorphic, suspended in stillness or in motion, alone or in groups, alive and also dead, but all characterized by an evident and touching fragility. These works can be read as an intimate diary of days of subverted balance, suspended in an unreal dimension, in which the birds embody not only the artist's suffering but also that which pervades humanity in isolation. At the same time, though forced into a cage by an oppressive situation, they are a symbol of resilience, ready to take off again on their light wings as soon as possible: a wounded flock suddenly appearing out of nowhere on the canvases and sheets painted by Avital, reminding us that freedom is the greatest gift for man.

The Birds group revolves around four black-and-white photographs belonging to The Lost Souls series, taken by Avital in Dresden in 2018 and featuring again birds, a recurring presence in his work. In particular here are crows that the artist, enchanted by their flight, has immortalized from afar, in flocks or as solitary presences, sometimes glimpsed through a tangle of branches or silhouetted in front of a dreary leaden sky. Unlike the Hitchcockian imagery handed down, crows for Avital are not spectral beings, but rather winged links capable of establishing a connection between heaven and earth, between those who are no longer there and those who are waiting for a signal from above, thus becoming declarations of love laden with nostalgia.


From the score and the initial paintings of 2020 later resulted a complex opus, a dramaturgy based on an open process, encapsulated under the title About Birds, enriched with new elements and a multiplicity of media such as photography, video art and new technologies.

In fact, to reframe and reconnect with the experience in the first lockdown, in June 2022 Avital self-enclosed for a week with three musicians in an ancient villa surrounded by woods in the hills of Modena.

Here, first, the artist divides the house into different performance spaces characterized by a staging that is functional to the different actions that mark the days: on the ground floor, the production and daily work rooms, the musicians' rehearsal room and the kitchen; on the second floor, the bedrooms, each equipped with materials arranged by Avital, such as sheet music, poems, inspirational texts and a GoPro camera with which musicians who wish to do so can film themselves; finally, on the second floor, the 'transformation room,' an empty space with a projector installed to transmit the Birdscore application specially programmed and designed by Avital to lead the artists in the metamorphic process through the creation of random performative actions.


In the halls of the villa and the surrounding woods, the participants, under Avital's guidance, slowly undergo a transformation: in self-induced isolation, like caged birds, they undertake a complex introspective journey in search of their own perception of the pandemic experience, which, at the end of the journey and through a succession of meaning-filled actions, will finally be overcome, culminating in a cathartic cry for newfound freedom.

The exhibition offers a restitution of the performance created ad hoc by Avital for the opus, through a selection of numerous photographs showing the various stages of the characters' transformation.


In dialogue with the photographs of About Birds, on display are the glass sculptures Birds, surreal creations made in dialogue with Murano master glassmaker Lucio Bubacco, created as part of the macro project entitled Bestiary of the Earth, commissioned from Avital by Reggio Parma Festival 2022 for the duration of the year just ended.


These winged beings with anthropomorphic features and brilliant colors, though still very fragile, seem to regain possession of their energies and raise their heads, ready to soar back to life as messengers of good omens.

During the self-reclosure with the musicians in the villa in the Modenese hills, Avital allocates an empty space, called the 'transformation room,' for the projection of images and videos derived from Birdscore, the generative application programmed by the artist specifically for the About Birds project with which the performers are invited to enter into dialogue.


It is a complex generative system of visual and syntactic components, i.e., capable of composing images derived from the union of Avital's works with photos he selected depicting birds and with evocative abstract images, randomly juxtaposed alongside sounds and finally projected onto the wall and onto the artists' bodies.

Birdscore also contains textual instructions on gestures and artistic actions to be performed by the performers, with precise directions on how, when and for how long. In parallel, it also generates 'mandalas,' i.e., intuitive visual references created from sharp, distorted, or pixelated images of Avital's paintings from the Birds series, or from images of birds seen in different natural settings, to inspire the performers in their search for an initial subtext within the scene, and at the same time to detach them from the present flow.


Each scene created within the work thus becomes a unique and almost unrepeatable constellation of images and textual directions.

Played alongside Birdscore are videos of the entire work About Birds made by Avital from footage taken during his week of imprisonment and from which the photographs displayed in the first room are taken.