MADRID – An art installation consisting of a hyperrealistic sculpture of a sperm whale stranded on the banks of Madrid’s River Manzanares shocked on Friday unsuspecting passersby who were not expecting to see a gigantic cetacean seemingly beached hundreds of kilometers away from the coast.
According to the Spanish capital’s local authorities, “Whale” is an art project that aims to put the spotlight on environmental issues and the ongoing destruction of oceanic ecosystems.
“It’s meant to get people thinking, through art, about the kind of city they want to live in and what sort of part they can play in looking after the environment,” Madrid’s city hall said in a statement.
Actors garbed in scientific gear interacted with the inert leviathan, hosing it down in a recreation of the real-life rescue efforts made by teams of passionate activists in hundreds of beaches across the world.
The performance was conceived by the art collective Captain Boomer, which has already brought the luckless behemoth to cities such as London, Ostend, Antwerp or Paris as part of a project designed to shock citizens into action to reverse the accelerating man-made destruction of the natural environment.
“The beached whale is a gigantic metaphor for the disruption of our ecological system,” Captain Boomer explained in a manifesto. “People feel their bond with nature is disturbed. The game between fiction and reality reinforces this feeling of disturbance.”
The sculpture, which painstakingly recreates a real 18-year-old male sperm whale, measures 15 meters (49 feet) in length, weighs over a ton and is located next to the iconic Puente de Segovia, the oldest bridge in the city.
The hapless marine mammal is set to remain stranded on the Manzanares’ banks until Sunday at 6 pm local time.