“Empty Nests” is a photo series by Japanese artist Atsuko Murano Abalos of stork nests that she discovered during a short stay in the Alsace region in France in fall of 2019. All the nests she found were empty; the birds had already raised their young and embarked on the long journey to Africa. But seeing the many empty nests atop trees, chimneys and other high places, meticulously constructed from flimsy materials to satisfy the needs of their family, stirred something within Murano Abalos.
At first sight, her photographs seem to pay homage to the birds’ craftsmanship, dexterity and ingenuity, or to find humor (and admiration) in the bravery and brazenness of the nests’ locations. But with each turn of the page, new themes emerge and manifest themselves, and soon the photographs reveal a deeper fascination rooted in the emptiness of the nests – as self-constructed homes, as symbols of fertility and family values, as signifiers of hundreds of years of cohabitation.
“When a bird builds a next, it doesn’t waste resources to show someone its taste, preferences, financial strength, social standing, nor to complicate the nest’s function. The bird does not think, nor does it make comments about things like making the nest for nation, for god, or for the environment and society; therefore preventing distractions for potentially making big mistakes. It only knows and acknowledges the needs of its own body, and the need for caring for its children.”
― from Hiroshi Nakamura’s afterword “Capturing the Unseen” (included in Japanese and in English translation)