CETACEAN started with this idea: a beached whale can be the equivalent of a Superfund site. Removing 35-75 tons of rotting whale is a problem. The task becomes harder, and even dangerous, when it’s understood that man-made toxins that pollute the ocean are concentrated in whale blubber. Author Rebecca Giggs writes, “Greenland’s Inuit women, who seasonally consume whale … had been warned off eating beluga during pregnancy and advised to stop nursing their babies altogether … According to BBC’s ‘Planet Earth: The Future’: ‘If her milk was in containers other than her breasts, she would not be allowed to take it over state lines.’”
CETACEAN (The Whale), will be The Unreliable Bestiary’s 6th performance. Part social practice, part installation, part live event, the project will culminate in a public performance built around a cast of 20 performers and a full-scale whale sculpture set in the University of Illinois Stock Pavilion. Using recycled plastic, we’re building the big creature with local students — a haunting, crowd-sourced ghost whale. Workshops with college and high school classes have ranged from presenting ideas of how the Midwest connects with oceans, whales, and petrochemicals to rotoscoping animations of breaching whales to building elements of the whale sculpture.