/ Anaïs López / Photo story

In the beginning no bird sang

In the beginning no bird sang is a project about IJburg, a new suburb of Amsterdam built ten years ago. It’s the end of the world according to the inhabitants of Amsterdam, because nothing happens there. I was triggered by this place and wanted to know how it is for the inhabitants to live in a city without history. On my search I met Jean, a blind man of 66. He was the first person to approach me on the street. After a short conversation he invited me to go on a walk with him. He lives in block 3b and walks the island every day with his seeing-eye dog. During our walks I discovered that Jean has a special gift; he recognizes almost all the birds on IJburg and can find his way around based on their specific sounds. Jean taught me to stop using my eyes and listen to his city. He showed me his IJburg: an IJburg full of animals, nature and other special occurrences. I photographed the island through his ‘eyes’: the places he visits and the birds he ‘sees’.

The project consists of a publication, a photo and video installation in the form of a show box and a sound installation. The book contains photographs, four real prints, and twelve oscillograms (sound icon) of Jean’s favorite birds. It’s partly interactive: two videos and several birdcalls are accessible through the Layar app. The videos show Jean at home with his dog and the IJburg fanfare that crosses his street every Wednesday.

Anaïs López (1981) studied photography at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague and the Sint Joost Academy in Breda. She combines working as a photographer for various magazines with making her own long term photo documentaries. With her personal work Anaïs López aims to show a new image of the world around her. A returning question in her work is whether people make their urban society or if it is the other way around.