Karen Miranda Abel

El Evento (The Event)

El Evento (The Event)

The Monarch butterfly migration is one of the most significant biological events on the planet.

~ Dr. Orley R. Taylor, Biologist

March 2011
Over 3,000 paper tickets, steel pins, found wooden picture frame

Mid-March marks the period each year when millions of Monarch butterflies that have spent the winter roosting on trees in central Mexico’s transvolcanic mountains begin to migrate north.

The annual Monarch migration was a mystery to the world until 1975 when scientists discovered that Monarch colonies found in the high elevations of central Mexico were not of the endemic population; rather, these individuals had travelled as much as 3,000 km from the United States and Canada to overwinter in the specialized microclimate of the Oyamel fir forests. The migration phenomenon was confirmed when a Monarch that had been tagged with an identification number in Minnesota was found that winter in Mexico.

In El Evento (The Event), thousands of paper ‘butterflies’ appear to migrate around — and elude the view of — an empty picture frame. The relationship created between the insect and human elements of the work offers a playful commentary on our preoccupation with ‘capturing’ biological phenomena within the confines of human perception and scientific explanation.

Why millions of these insects are driven to collectively complete this most incredible feat of navigation and endurance each year is perhaps a question that is not for us to answer. We observe this and other mysterious natural events with awe and wonder, but at times, perhaps we are uninvited spectators too eager to frame a frameless world.

The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a Species at Risk in Ontario and Canada. The main causes of species decline are widespread use of insecticides and herbicides in North America, and deforestation of the overwintering sites in Mexico.