Bird Island Diptych: i. Summer Pachanga II. Halcyon Hellscape after Advent Attacks and more art by Kamala Platt

Bird Island Diptych: i. Summer Pachanga II. Halcyon Hellscape after Advent Attacks, 2019-2020
70 x 100 cm (h x w)
Digital Photo

“Bird Island Diptych I & II…” consists of two 2019 photographs that I took a few months apart of an island in Elmendorf Lake, a small water body in a city park in San Antonio’s Westside barrio. “Bird Island,”named generations back by the local community, was home to a heronry pictured in “I. Summer Pachanga. It has been an ecological-cultural fixture to the surrounding neighborhoods and a nesting ground for migratory egrets, herons and cormorants for decades.” A cypress, and other Texas native trees held stick platform nests that were reused each nesting season.

In league with a displacement war happening in communities and habitats, worldwide, local plans to eliminate San Antonio’s heronry developed by the City, its military bases and the US Dept. of Agriculture were delayed in February 2019 by eggs in a Great Heron nest. “Summer Pachanga” reveals the final nesting year at Bird Island. However the habitat destruction and pyrotechnic harassment were carried out beginning December, 2019; they resumed when migratory birds returned in Spring 2020, under Covid 19 Stay at Home orders . “Halcyon Hellscape…” reveals the denuded island on a foggy morning after removal of nests and flora.

As home to white egrets, Bird Island evokes Aztlan, Place of White Herons, an intracontinental, legendary, northern homeland for Mexican peoples. Aztlan is where those who immigrated south to the Valley of Mexico (now, México City) originated. Chican@ communities across Greater Mexico in the U.S. identify local “Atzlans” like Bird Island. In late 20th/ early 21st Century Chicana writing, Aztlan configures connections to Indigenous land, evoking memories that walk us through emotional numbness to commemorate struggles against wars on native lands and peoples. They celebrate contemporary Indigenous, Queer, Mestiza communities that continue struggles of conscience against wars’ violence.

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