/05 Animals

Ricardo Cases

Paloma al aire

The pigeon keeper invests time, money and hope in his young pigeons. He
raises them, gives them names, trains them and has faith in them. When the
competition day comes, he arrives with childlike illusion and uncertainty.
Colombiculture is a sport with rules and referees. The price for young
pigeons can reach thousands of euros and betting involves large amounts of
money. Even so, there is still something childish in this fascination for
birds: The man who holds a trembling pigeon in his hands has the same look
as he did when he was 10 years old.

The bravest

There is a unique Spanish variety of colombiculture: Colombiculture Sport.
The game goes like this: a female pigeon is released and dozens of young
male pigeons fly behind her competing for her attention. None of them ever
manage to attain a high level of intimacy with her but the winner is the
one who stays the closest to the female for the longest period of time. It
is not the most athletic, the toughest or the purest breed that wins. It
is the most courteous, persistant, with the stongest reproductive
instinct. The bravest.
Raising a champion pigeon brings prestige and benefits. Painted with
primary colors, lika a flag or a football team, the pigeon is raised and
trained to mate, and it becomes the pigeonist´s (Pigeon Keepers) flying
personality which embodies his success or failure, economically and
sexually. Far from the gritty reality of daily life, the pigeonist has a
second life expressed by his pigeons where he can reach the top. All he
needs is to raise a champion pigeon.

Orchard anthropology

The small world of colomboculture, for the photographer, is like a scale
model of a whole life vision. Without being conscious, Pigeonists bring
into play elements like sex, flight, rivalry, illusion, victory and
failure. In the rustic lanscape of the Levantine orchard, metaphors emerge
by themselves.

Text by Luis López Navarro, 2010