a project about migration for Vienna and St.Petersburg

(with Martin Leitner und Martin Rössler)

SANS FRONTIÈRES is about the traditional migration each autumn of more than 250,000 Rooks (Corvus Frugilegus Frugilegus) from Russia and Eastern Europe to Vienna and other parts of Central and Western Europe. The sight and sound of vast squadrons of up to several thousand birds flying in waves over the city as they return to their roosting places on a grey winter evening is an unforgettable part of the of the winter city-scape in Vienna and other cities of Central Europe. The Rooks remain until late February when, as the days become longer, they begin to drift away eastwards to their summer breeding grounds.

Rooks prefer to roost and breed close to towns and villages where food is easy to find, but their habit of living in huge noisy, messy colonies (rookeries) makes them undesirable neighbours. So, although some small colonies of local rooks are tolerated in Austria, the huge swarms of winter migrants return to the more open spaces of the east in Russia and the Ukraine where they are welcomed as harbingers of spring. By the end of March the rooks are gone.

The project observes the Rooks in winter in Vienna, their daily commuting into and out of the city, their feeding habits and social behaviour. The project material consists of over 8 hours of video and sound recordings of Rooks, collected during the winter of 2003, in and around Vienna. The birds have been recorded in their overnight roosts as they awaken and prepare to fly into the city, during the day while feeding in the parks and public spaces, in the afternoon as they gather in ever larger groups preparing to fly back to their roosts and their homeward flight - the flocks numbering thousands of birds swirling above the city.

SANS FRONTIÈRES is constructed in 3 parts or versions: 1. the installation in St.Petersburg, 2. the web site and 3. the radio broadcast.

VIDEO - The video recordings (Robert Adrian, Eva Wohlgemuth, Martin Rössler) of the Rooks in the parks, trees and skies of the city have been edited into 6 loops (each approx. 9 minutes long) and burned as DVDs to play continuously. Each sequence is displayed on a separate monitor installed in the windows of the Quo Vadis cyber café, Nevsky Prospect 24, St.Petersburg.

AUDIO - The sound recordings (Martin Leitner) will be used both for the Kunstradio broadcast and as the sound for the installations. The sound for the installations will be edited into 6 separate 10-15 minute tracks. The tracks will be looped to play continuously, each from a separate loudspeaker mounted on the facade of the Quo Vadis cyber café.

Die SANS FRONTIÈRES home page has been designed and programmed by Robert Adrian und Eva Wohlgemuth. The Website is conceived as an integral part - and archive - of the project and includes:
- sound and videofiles from the SANS FRONTIÈRES project,
- an interface for exchange of sound and image during the Kunstradio broadcast,
- a section about the role of rooks, crows and ravens in mythology,
- an interface for contributions - facts, stories, observations about Rooks.

Two live evenings are also included in the project plan: On October 5 Alla Mitrofanova has developed a discussion around the theme of "The Time of Migration", and on October 12 a performance evening with Dehli Kuda Populo, a group of young St.Petersburg poets has been organised by Anna Matveyeva. Both events will be streamed live, with sound and image, on the internet.

Kunstradio broadcast - October 5 '03 - 23:00 to 24:00 (CET) on Ö1 (culture channel of ORF, Austrian National Radio). The broadcast will be received in St.Petersburg as a "live-stream" on the internet. The program is divided into 3 parts:
1. a 20 minute work by Robert Adrian and Martin Leitner based on the recordings made by M.Leitner for the installation loops,
2. a 15 - 20 minute contribution by St.Petersburg artist Dmitry Shubin
3. a live, improvised interaction between the studio in Vienna and Quo Vadis in St.Petersburg.