American, b. 1980

Birds Watching, 2018

Reflective film mounted on aluminum on steel frame
9 ft. x 40 ft. x 12 in. (274.3 cm x 12.2 m x 30.5 cm)
Courtesy the artist

This “flock” of one hundred colorful, reflective birds’ eyes, fabricated in the same fashion as street signs, mimics the experience of seeing the glowing reflection of an animal’s eyes at night. Each eye depicts a bird species considered threatened or endangered by climate change, creating a portrait of what may disappear in fifty years’ time, according to a recent study by the Audubon Society. With its direct gaze, Birds Watching seems to asks the viewer to consider how his or her actions actively contribute to climate change and its myriad effects on other beings. The reciprocal act of seeing forefronts mankind’s relationship to other species and highlights the responsibility of human beings to live harmoniously within a larger ecosystem. Visitors are invited to use flash photography to capture this work’s reflective surface.

Underground Library, 2017–18

Selections from a library of books on climate change,
biocharred to sequester carbon
Dimensions variable
Courtesy the artist

Underground Library is a long-term project based around a collection of five decades of defunct, passed over, or ignored books on climate change—from technical manuals to best sellers. Gathered by the artist from thrift stores, free-book boxes, and used-book stores, Jenny Kendler altered these forgotten texts through biocharring, which uses a low-oxygen pyrolization, or burning, process to sequester carbon and thus keep it from entering Earth’s atmosphere, normally a consequence of decaying organic matter. When buried in the ground, biocharred material provides a number of benefits to plants and grasses, such as reducing soil acidity and feeding microbial life. Underground Library exists simultaneously as the physical objects seen here, as a series of documentary photographs, and as installations of the books buried in the landscape—creating a literal underground library.