Each winter, Rome’s sky is the stage for mesmerizing murmurations of millions of starlings. Swirling and ever shape-shifting liquid-like clouds are formed by a myriad of tiny black dots, moving like one single being in an unpredictable, breathtaking and incredibly swift aerial ballet.
Each winter, Rome's Campo Verano, the city's largest cemetery, is the stage for an ear-splitting cacophony as hundreds of thousands of starlings settle in its trees for their communal night roost at sunset. The incessant drizzle of the bird's droppings has submerged the cemetery under a monochrome, air-stifling coat.
Auspicia literally means looking at birds and refers to an ancient Roman practice to determine the gods' consent for major undertakings – even the exact location of Rome was thus determined. Starlings have not always lived in and migrated to Rome. The first reference to them as migrant birds spending the winter is from 1926 and they did not start living in Rome permanently before 1970.
Auspicia by Daniela Friebel looks at flocks of starlings and graves in shrouds, it is a work about unrestricted forms and shapes as well as protection and concealment. Ultimately, it is about the impossibility of control and man's futile and unremitting attempts at exerting it.
Daniela Friebel (b. 1975) is a photographer and conceptual artist based in Berlin, Germany. She holds a diploma in Fine Arts from the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig and a degree in Literature and Linguistics from Humboldt University Berlin.