Sally Madge

Bird in Hand

Site specific interactive performance
Freud Museum, London
February 2011


A sign placed next to the box requests visitors to:

‘Open the box and follow the instructions’

Inside the box lid the text reads:

  • ‘Put on the gloves
  • Carefully lift out the bird
  • Examine it closely
  • Consider its beauty
  • Be sad at its demise
  • Tell it a secret
  • Return it to the box
  • Take off the gloves
  • Close the lid
  • Your secret is safe‘

The work engages with the context of the Freud Museum as a site of display as well as referencing psychoanalytic notions of free association and confidential disclosure. First staged during The Dream of Fluxus as part of Three Star A La Carte at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, the bird* is transformed in this travelling performance by the weight of its secrets while the attendant remains vigilant.

*A redshank. This shoreline wading bird was found on the North East coast and was freeze-dried at a local museum in the exact state in which it was found.