In Pursuit of Happiness

In pursuit of Happiness

Patrick was commissioned to produce new work for the contemporary art ‘Kunsten Festival’ in Watou. The work was an evolution of his ‘Belonging’ installation. The new work explored the notion that life could be better elsewhere, and how this search seems to be part of the human condition. 300 pigeons were produced and installed across Watou.

Globally this search can be influenced by many factors whether choosing to emigrate to another country in search of better prospects or being forced to flee your own country in fear of oppression. People go to extraordinary lengths to escape to a better future, risking everything they have including their life in pursuit of this goal.

As in Belonging the emblem of the pigeon is used to highlight the very human struggle in finding acceptance or a natural sense of place, and just as urban pigeons strive to find a home we humans try and ‘migrate’ across the globe, trying to geographically change our fortunes and ultimately search for a better set of circumstances in order to achieve happiness.

The shipping containers represent a means of escape and also the very structures and circumstances that people use or need freedom or release from. They symbolise a physical, geographical or intellectual condition.

In the Watou Festival installation the pigeons have escaped the containers and confines and have taken up residence on their own terms, now in charge of their own destiny beyond external influences.

There is further evidence of the birds current state of freedom, having shed their identity leg rings which can be found scattered across the lower container floor. In captivity pigeon owners use leg rings to identify who the pigeons belong to and from which region or country they are from. Here the leg rings symbolise the birds’ freedom, and our own freedom from whatever is obstructing our own happiness. Inside the leg rings can be found messages of hope and freedom. Visitors to the installation will be able to take these as a memento of the project.


Commission: Pursuit of Happiness
Event: Kunsten Festival, Watou
Year: 2014
Country: Belgium