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Italian photographers showcase ‘top model’ chickens in new coffee table book

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Breathtaking landscapes. Timeless art masterpieces. Big shiny photographs of big shiny humans.

You put coffee table books featuring any of the above in your living room and they say: “These giant books I never open reflect my taste.” But do they also say say something else? Do they, perhaps say, “I’m boring”?

A new coffee table book by two Italian photographers will definitely not say that. It’s designed solely to showcase the beauty of chickens.

Matteo Tranchellini and Moreno Monti demonstrate how to speak chicken to As It Happens host Carol Off. 0:30

As It Happens host Carol Off spoke with Matteo Tranchellini, and his work partner, Moreno Monti, about their unusual book called CHICken, which they funded through a Kickstarter campaign. 

Here is part of their conversation.

Matteo, why did you decide to photograph these beautiful chickens?

This is our passion because we have a studio in Milano with a little garden. We want to have some pets. We decide to buy some chicken, some little chicken, beautiful chicken — a cocincina —​ not a popular chicken.

When we buy the chicken, we contact the farmer and the farmer invite us to photograph some chicken in an exhibition.

The work start in the exhibition because we start to photograph some chicken and we understand this animal is incredible —​ like model. 

(Moreno Monti and Matteo Tranchellini)

But these are like vogue fashion art pictures of these chickens. These are exquisite.

Yeah, because when the farmer asked us to photograph the chicken we realized that chickens are like model — top models. In this moment, we understand that the shooting is very different from the start of the work.

We are interested in the beauty of this animal. In this exhibition, there was many, many chickens. We choose some chickens.

When we start with one exhibition we wanted to go to another one and another one, more. When we had 300 photographs of many, many chickens, we realized we had many material to make … we don’t know what. 

A book —​ finally, yes. You have just the most amazing chickens. Did you know there were so many different kinds?

No. We discovered at the exhibition. We don’t know so much about chicken, rooster and everything. We discovered many, many people are passionate about this animal. We were in front of the top models. 

(Moreno Monti and Matteo Tranchellini)

How much co-operation did you get from these chickens?

When the chicken was on the stage they stay five, 10 minutes maximum, because there was the flash, the camera, people around. The chicken make what they want. After 10 minutes, it’s impossible to shoot them.

Do you think they liked having all this attention?

I think yes, because you can see on the picture. They are like a star, an actress, a model. You can see in every animal the character of the animal. 

(Moreno Monti and Matteo Tranchellini)

They strut quite a bit. Did you get roosters or just chickens?

Many rooster and many chicken. Half and half, I think.

Did any of your models become dinner?

No, no, no. Absolutely no. This kind of chicken are only for beauty.

Did you harvest their eggs?

Yes, yes. Not too much because the selection is only for the beauty. 

(Moreno Monti and Matteo Tranchellini)

Now, I saw a video of you and your partner, of you and Moreno, and you were speaking chicken to one another. You talk chicken?

Absolutely.

Alright, can you speak chicken for us?

Yes.

(Moreno Monti joins conversation: Moooh-bah-bow-bow-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bow-moh-moh-bah-bah-bow-bow.”)

That’s wonderful! They have taught you many, many words these chickens.

You understand?

Completely.

Written by John McGill. Interview produced by Anna Cianni. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Matteo Tranchellini — and his chicken-talking work partner, Moreno Monti.

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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