Jonathan Latiano, baiji, Baiji dolphins, Chinese dolphins, freshwater dolphins, dolphin extinction, species extinction, extinction, animal-inspired installation, Baltimore Museum of Art, Yangtze River, China, art, driftwood, driftwood installation, driftwood art

In 2006, a search expedition declared the Baiji Yangtze Dolphin functionally extinct, meaning that even if a few baiji still existed in the wild, the numbers would be too small for the population to sustain itself. The baiji population’s dramatic decline is attributed to the industrialization and overuse of the Yangtze River for fishing, transit, and hydroelectricity. Inspired by the baiji’s dismal story, Latiano’s installation of suspended dolphin skeletons serves as tribute to the loss of the species.

Related: China’s Yangtze River Suddenly Turns Red, and Nobody Knows Why

Latiano created the ghostly reminders out of driftwood he collected by hand from local freshwater rivers and lakes. He cleaned and bleached the wood before hand carving each piece into the shape of dolphin bones. “I tried to be as true to the Baiji’s actual anatomy as the material would allow,” Latiano said in an interview with BmoreArt. “The entire process of construction was aimed at an attempt to better understand and have some kind of conversation with a creature where that dialogue was physically not an option anymore.” The skeletons are arranged in a hanging arc that appears to rise out of a stack of wood in one corner of the room and travel through the air towards a glowing white disc.

+ Jonathan Latiano

Via Colossal

Images via Jonathan Latiano