The Belgian creative collective Captain Boomer is currently engaged in a initiative called the Sperm Whale Summer Tour in which the collective uses a lifelike sculpture of a beached sperm whale as an artistic and educational performance. After the very first beaching in 2008 in Scheveningen and subsequently in Antwerp, Oostende and Venray they landed on the shore of London’s river Thames at Greenwich. Through fake researchers around the whale a seemingly authentic scene is created. And due to the fact of actual scientists on site, the educational dimension is real. Those who are interested in sperm whales and why they beach will get an answer, but it also touches the element of a whale beaching as a societal spectacle.
Captain Boomer‘s motivation behind the project can be found in the broad felt effect of a beaching in modern society. With ecological knowledge growing, a rising awareness of the careless behavior towards our environment and mass-media hungry for attention-catching stories to broadcast; the beaching of a whale can be seen as a significant symbol of our disrupted ecology. Captain Boomer states:
The psychological archetype of the dead big fish leaves no one untouched. It stirs and mobilizes a local community.
When Captain Boomer performs a beaching the whale sculpture is placed during the night in which bleeding and smell is also prepared. In the morning the carcass is fenced to keep people at a distance. A circle of about 7 meters around the statue evolves into the stage of the performance. In this zone the pretend-scientist of the bogus North Sea Whale Association measure the carcass, take samples, and prepare to do autopsy never dropping their act. Along the way there is interaction with the crowd about the species itself, potential causes of death, and why it could have beached. Although the staging begins with ecological facts, the fake scientists also like to create discussions on whether the dead whale is a warning or augury. By doing this, the performance also touches the emotional dimension of a whale beaching in a community, which always above all other things has been a spectacle as long as they are known to happen.
For the actual sperm whale reconstruction Captain Boomer has turned to Dirk Claesen of Zephyr, who excels in hyperrealistic reconstructions. The sperm whale with its 18 meters length is one of the largest reconstructions that Zephyr has made to date. The concept of the beached sperm whale project stems from the minds of Bart van Peel and Frederik Feys.
A wonderful and inspiring initiative!
(images by Captain Boomer via iGNANT)