Few things are as sad as the site of a beached whale being lapped at by the waves. That sentiment is often accompanied by a sense of human guilt as well–pollution, shipping activity, and even military sonar can all contribute to the beaching of marine mammals.
Since most people never see a beached whale in real life and get to experience those feelings, Belgian art collective Captain Boomer decided to bring a 17-meter plexiglass whale to the banks of London’s River Thames for the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival of the arts, along with a crew of fake scientists who documented the scene.
According to the artists (via My Modern Met), “The psychological archetype of the dead big fish leaves no one untouched. It stirs and mobilizes a local community. During our beachings, we see an intensive interaction among the crowd. People address each other, speculate and wonder. They offer help and ask for information. The different layers of perception create funny games. Some audience members know it is a work of art but feed the illusion to other people.”
And for those who aren’t so excited by fantasy and want real information? The British Divers Marine Association was kind enough to be on hand to answer questions about what would happen to the whale if it was real.