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In late 2015, Italian artist Hitnes embarked on a twenty-city road trip throughout America with the goal of retracing the endeavors of John James Audubon in the 19th century. Audubon’s ambitious goal was to document all of the birds in the country, and these well-known drawings made up his book The Birds of America.

Captivated by the enormous scope of Audubon’s goal, Hitnes traveled across the country, aiming to cover in three months what Audubon did in as many decades. Hitnes’s journey on one hand allowed him to explore the state of the birds nearly two centuries after Audubon encountered them. But it also became an all-encompassing performance project in which he gathered materials and made sketches, created public murals, and documented his interactions with a wide range of Americans in video.

Hitnes’s exhibition The Image Hunter: On the Trail of John James Audubondocuments his journey, elaborating on what it is that drives a person to dedicate multiple decades of their life pursuing an obsession like Audubon did. The exhibition premiered at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston from August 17 through September 29, 2018 and continues to travel nationally. Much of the work in the exhibition was created during his summer 2017 residency at the Halsey Institute, where he further explored the connection between John James Audubon and Charleston, South Carolina.

Nido, 2012
13.5 x 19.5 inches
Copper etching on Graphia paper