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'It's a bit scary': Statue of drowning girl prompts visceral reactions

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 9/30/2021 Zachary Rosenthal

A hyperrealistic and creepy statue of a young girl's head floating in the River Nervion in the center of the port city of Bilbao in northern Spain is unsettling residents and inspiring dialogue around a topic that indeed is unsettling for many around the world: climate change.

The young girl, with her unblinking eyes and calm expression, is plunged under the water as the tides rise before emerging again, a cycle that repeats over and over, day after day.

The statue's creator, Mexican artist Ruben Orozco, created the statue entitled "Bihar" ('Tomorrow' in Basque) for a campaign by the BBK Foundation, a charity run by the Spanish bank Kutxabank, to start a debate around sustainability and climate change, Reuters reported. The art installation is intended to be a reflection on what could happen "if we continue to bet on unsustainable models" like those that contribute to climate change, BBK said.

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As the tides shift, the head of the young girl slowly emerges from the murky depths.

Orozco told Spanish news website Nius that the statue aims to make people realize that "their actions can sink us or keep us afloat."

Those who have walked by the statue have had visceral reactions to the art and its meaning.

"It's spectacular; it's a bit scary," one woman commented, according to Ruptly. "Now the tide is a bit low, but when it rises, and I suppose you'll see it there, it's a bit scary. It's so realistic that it looks like it's drowning," she added.

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A passerby glances at the 'Drowning Girl' statue in the River Nervion.

Bilbao residents were surprised by the statue's sudden appearance. The more than 2-meter-tall (about 6.5-feet-tall) figure was placed in the River Nervion in the middle of the night on Sept. 23.

"I'm a bit shocked by the serene countenance she has with regard to the idea that she is drowning and she is getting covered more and more by the water, depending on the tide I imagine it will change," said a passerby.

A warming climate causes sea levels to rise across the world, making flooding caused by the natural cycle of the tides more and more common. In the United States, high tide flooding is anywhere from 300 to 900 percent more frequent than it was 50 years ago.

The statue was installed just after the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and following a summer that brought numerous extreme weather disasters all around the world, many of which climate scientists have suggested were exacerbated by the effects of global warming. The month of July 2021 earned the dubious distinction as the hottest month ever recorded on Earth, according to NOAA.

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