Statue Depicting Drowning Girl in Spain Sparks Conversation About Sustainability

Blank eyes stare upwards toward the sky from Bilbao's River Nervion in Spain, and a young girl looks as if she is drowning in the tide.

In actuality, the young girl is a statue that was installed last week. Ruben Orozco, a Mexican hyperrealist artist, collaborated with Clara Alcantara Davalos to create the work.

The name of the art installation is "Bihar," which translates to "tomorrow" in Basque. Reuters reported that Orozco created the piece for a campaign by the BBK Foundation, a charitable organization part of the Spanish lender Kutxabank.

Orozco told Nius, a Spanish news outlet, that the campaign focuses on "adopting sustainable competitiveness models" for future generations. He also told Newsweek that the piece does not represent a particular genre, but it represents tomorrow.

"'Bihar: Choosing tomorrow' is a pausing exercise, looking at all that is changing and above all, of future reflection on what can happen if we continue to bet on unsustainable models," Orozco said.

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A shot of "Bihar" in the river. Clara Alcantara Davalos and Ruben Orozco Ioza

He said he hopes the art will help people reflect and see that, like the sculpture, there may be a time in the future where "we are not afloat."

"Each decision we [make], we choose whether to sink or float," Orozco said.

According to BBK Foundation, the piece is meant to convey the weight of the decisions that are made for generations to come.

"It is a sculpture committed to the expression of an entire generation to come," a press release from the BBK Foundation stated. "An expression of expectation for the decisions that we will make and that will determine if we live sunk or stick our heads out."

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A photo of "Bihar" before it was installed. Clara Alcantara Davalos and Ruben Orozco Ioza

The 264-pound sculpture is uncovered and submerged by the tides each day. "Bihar" is made of resin and fiberglass, and rather than paint, Orozco used translucent resin for the sculpture. According to the press release from the BBK Foundation, it took just under three months and was installed in a concrete and iron structure.

"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," said Triana Gil, as quoted in Reuters. "She doesn't even look worried, it's as if she is letting herself drown."

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A shot of "Bihar" getting installed into the river. Clara Alcantara Davalos and Ruben Orozco Ioza

This is not the first time Orozco worked with the BBK Foundation on a project. Nearly two years ago, he collaborated with Alcantara to create a life-sized statue of a woman sitting on a park bench. As reported by Reuters, the piece, called "Invisible Soledad," started a conversation about the isolated lives of the elderly.