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The Boston Globe

Arts

Peabody Essex Museum hosts musical flight of fancy

SALEM — The French artist-musician is quiet, ducking out for another Lucky Strike before returning to tinker with his arsenal of electric guitars. But his bandmates won’t shut up. They’re birds — 70 chirping, swooping zebra finches. And Céleste Boursier-Mougenot needs them.

You see, the artist doesn’t use his fingers to play the Gibson Les Pauls mounted around a white-walled gallery at the Peabody Essex Museum. He depends on his winged collaborators to create the wash of power chords that have turned his installations into a sensation from London to New York City.

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