Many onlookers stop and stare at the hyperrealistic sculpture of a girl that appears to be drowning in the River Nervión in Bilbao, Spain.
The artist, Ruben Orozco Loza, created the massive sculpture with the intention of starting conversations about “current social decisions on the future of young people’s lives,” according to their Instagram post.
Their post, translated from Basque, states that the art piece is a “sculptural intervention that seeks to highlight the impact of current social decisions on the future of young people's lives.” The sculpture is titled “Bihar,” which translates to “tomorrow,” is a nod to the impacts that youth and future generations will face as sea levels rise.
The sculpture is only visible in low tide and slowly vanishes when the water rises. Kutxabank, a socially conscious financial institution in Bilbao, commissioned the project and states that it is “a sculpture with the expression of an entire generation to come.”
As reported by Reuters, Bilbao resident Triana Gil said "at first it gave me a feeling of stress, when more of the face was out of the water, but now to me she communicates sadness, a lot of sadness."
The Atlantic Ocean flows into the Estuary of Bilbao and has played a significant role in the region’s prosperity as an industrial port city over the past several hundred years. Research from the Basque government in 2018 stated that sea levels along the Basque coastline could rise by 4.5 to 6.5 mm each decade until 2100. The study also stated that the River Nervión is one of the most vulnerable urban areas to sea level rise in the Basque province.
Thumbnail credit: Ruben Orozco Loza