Ruff Knowledge is a performance about ruffs and the diversity of sex and sexuality in nature.
Homosexual behavior and diverse sexes are common phenomena in nature, yet they receive very little visibility in nature media. The Ruff (Calidris pugnax) is perhaps the most diverse wild vertebrate species. During the breeding season, male ruffs all look different from each other, also resembling females in some cases. All types of ruffs engage in sexual activity with each other. Nevertheless, these birds are generally categorized into two sexes, and their behavior is assumed to be motivated by heterosexual reproduction.
Humans tend to make circular arguments regarding nature: they interpret observations of nature through the lens of their own values, and then use this value-laden version of nature to justify the same values as “natural.”
Ruff Knowledge asks, how do we know about birds? Can we know what it’s like to be a bird? Would that knowledge change our relationship with birds and the world? What happens in humans observing birds? What happens in the birds being observed and observing back?
Text, video, audio, performance: Camille Auer
Dramaturg: Emil Santtu Uuttu
Costume: Johanna Porola
Filming assistant: Nea Alasaari
Artistic dialog: Teo Ala-Ruona
Bird dialog: Elliot Lundegård and Helinä Ääri
Funding: Finnish Cultural Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland
Production: Baltic Circle, Kanneltalo and Camille Auer
Residency: Mad House, Pro Artibus, Ars Bioarctica
Thank you: Museum centre Turku, Minna and Seppo