By Benjamin Woodard
EDGEWATER — Artist Colleen Plumb visited 50 zoos across the country over the past five years to film elephants in captivity.
Now, a collection of what she found is being projected on buildings throughout the city, including in Edgewater.
The 7.5-minute video includes footage of 20 elephants, many of them exhibiting a rocking or weaving behavior only captive elephants are known to show, Plumb said.
"Thirty Times a Minute," 2009-2014 from Colleen Plumb on Vimeo."These elephants became this study of rhythm, and I think people can see it and relate," said the 44-year-old Plumb, who projected the video Thursday and Friday on Granville Avenue. "Some people ignore it when they pass by, and some people really engage with it. Some people really take it in and are like, 'Wow, that’s not good.'"
The art installation is called "Thirty Times a Minute," referencing the resting heartbeat of elephants.
Plumb, a photography professor at Columbia College Chicago, said she first became interested in elephants when she went to the circus at the United Center in 2006.
"I just knew I wanted to explore the lives of elephants," she said.
In 2007, she stopped at every zoo between Chicago and South Carolina while on a road trip. And at a zoo in Greenville, S.C., she first noticed that many elephants rock or sway back and forth while in captivity. She said researchers predict the behavior could help the animals cope.
This year, she concluded a "grueling tour" of 50 of the 75 zoos in the country that keep elephants.
She said she hoped to spark a conversation about elephants in captivity.
"The animals really do suffer for us in being there," she said. "When I'm showing [the video] to so many people, it makes the elephants presence not in vain."
Plumb's video of the elephants will be showing 5-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway and 6-9 p.m. Dec. 5-6 on Devon Avenue between Glenwood and Wayne avenues.