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‘Bihar’, a drowning girl in Spanish river, causes a stir art

The installation called 'Bihar' by Mexican hyperrealist artist Ruben Orozco in a river is causing a stir (All pictures courtesy Twitter/@ElTioCreespy)

Artworks are generally soothing but at times they need to be shocking, too, to focus on issues which require urgent deliberation and action. Coming in this category of artwork is the drowning girl statue called “Bihar” in a Spanish river.

The impassive and unnerving face of a young girl – which is absolutely lifelike – drowning in the dirty and murky tide waters of Bilbao’s river Nervion in Spain has completely unsettled the residents of the Spanish city.

This shock and awe creation has been done by the Mexican hyperrealist artist Ruben Orozco who made this truly enigmatic figure, called “Bihar”, meaning “tomorrow” in Basque. It is a part of a campaign by the BBK Foundation, a charitable wing of the Spanish lender Kutxabank.

The aim of the installation goes beyond beauty and aesthetics. It is primarily to initiate and encourage debate around sustainability.

In an interview to the Spanish website Nius, the artist, remarked the goal is for people to be aware that “their actions can sink us or keep us afloat".

With the ebb and flow of the tides, the fibreglass figure, which weighs 120 kilogram or 264 pounds, submerges and uncovers each day. BBK Foundation stated that this was a reflection on what could happen “if we continue to bet on unsustainable models" such as the ones that contribute to climate change.

It was last week on Thursday (September 23), that residents of Bilbao woke up to this installation after it had been taken by boat and lowered into the river near the city centre at the dead of night.

One of the visitors, Triana Gil remarked: “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. She doesn’t even look worried, it’s as if she is letting herself drown."

Some thought that it was in memory of some past event which was a tragedy. “I learnt today that’s not what it’s about, but I think people can each give their own meaning to it," said Maria, another onlooker.


This is not the first time that Orozco is surprising, shocking and moving Bilbao people with his work — “Bihar” this time. Two years ago, his work, which was a life-size statue of a lone woman sitting on a park bench, called “Invisible Soledad”, sparked a debate about the isolated lives of the elderly.