The Last Haul



Last Haul, 2014, ceramic pigeons, antique market scale, fishnet, h.10’ x w.3’ x d.2’

The Last Haul, was created for the Michigan State Museum installation, They Came in like a Cloud. This installation, about extinction, was held to acknowledge the 100-year anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. The Last Haul, can be interpreted on different levels. It depicts the historical wrongs committed by nineteenth-century industrialists and  links them to contemporary American consumer society.  The Last Haul ties a commercial value to other species, placing our need for consumption over other species right to exist.

The Last haul was made from 12 male and female, hand built clay passenger pigeons, that were accurately carved to look dead . They are hung upside-down, as though recently harvested. Encased in a used fishing net, and suspended from an antique market scale, a monetary value is placed on them. The market scale was used in fish markets during the time Passenger Pigeons existed. A sonar beep could be heard from within the netting and birds. The use of the net not only refers to fishing, but also to the widespread killing of the Passenger Pigeons by hunters called “netters.” These netters followed the flock by using the telegraph to track the flock, and train transportation to access and harvest the flock. This is not unlike commercial fishing vessels today and their use of sonar to track fish populations. This piece seeks to link the human behavior creating the historic extinction of the Passenger Pigeon with the over-fishing of our oceans and waters.