Drowning girl statue causes a stir in Bilbao

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Drowning girl statue causes a stir in Bilbao
Drowning girl statue causes a stir in Bilbao. Image - Instagram

The eerily lifelike statue of a drowning girl’s face staring out of Bilbao’s River Nervion has caused a stir.

The eerily lifelike statue of a young girl’s face drowning in Bilbao’s River Nervion has caused a stir since appearing unannounced last week.

People in the Spanish city have felt unsettled by the statue, titled ‘Bihar’ (‘Tomorrow’ in Basque), that was created by Mexican hyperrealist artist Ruben Orozco.

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The statue has been created for a campaign by the BBK Foundation in a bid to encourage debate around sustainability.

It is intended to represent and make people aware that: “their actions can sink us or keep us afloat”, the artist said.

As the tides rise and fall, the 120 kg figure is submerged and uncovered each day, with BBK saying this is intended as a reflection on what could happen “if we continue to bet on unsustainable models” such as those that contribute to climate change.


Residents of Bilbao awake to the figure last Thursday, September 23, after it was taken by boat and installed into the water in the middle of the night.

“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 visitor Triana Gil.

“She doesn’t even look worried, it’s as if she is letting herself drown.”


Another onlooker said she had thought the installation was a memorial: “I learnt today that’s not what it’s about, but I think people can each give their own meaning to it.”

‘Bihar’ is not the first Orozco work to spark debate in Bilbao, two years ago his life-size statue of a lone woman sitting on a park bench, ‘Invisible Soledad’ aimed to make people think about the isolated lives of the elderly.


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Laura is from a small seaside town in North Wales and has also lived in Liverpool and Manchester, where she studied English Literature and worked in social media and marketing. Laura moved to the city of Zaragoza last August to teach English, but after missing the coast she decided to move to beautiful Nerja to enjoy the sun and sea. Laura has a passion for animals, films, outdoor activities, writing and the environment.

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