Massive bear and gorilla sculptures were placed along Paris’ iconic Haussmann boulevard on Wednesday in an open-air exhibition called “Fragiles colosses” (“Fragile giants”).
The ten artworks – eight bears and two gorillas- by French sculptor Michel Bassompierre represent endangered and vulnerable animals, such as polar bears and mountain gorillas, in a reminder of the fragility of the natural world.
Artist Michel Bassompierre, who specializes in contemporary animal sculpture, said humans take up all space on earth: “We are like egotistic young children who don’t realize that they have to share (with animals), that Earth is not only ours, it belongs to every living being and not solely humanity.” Humans disturb animals and keep them from reproducing, he added.
Bassompierre, who is 74 years old, told news agency Reuters that given his age, he won’t see bears and gorillas go extinct in his life, but he knows that the moment that they will go extinct is coming: “I am afraid we will be unable to do otherwise because humans are heading straight into a wall and are maybe born to do that.”
The monumental bear and gorilla sculptures of up to 4 metres (13 feet) in height are based on the artist’s sketches and placed in the city center of Paris.
“We did not really know that these animals were chosen because they were endangered, but it is an invitation to think about it, to reconsider our way of life, of consuming and to participate in the protection (of these animals),” 35-year-old English teacher Amina Chatti, who has three children, said, adding that the issue should be talked about more with children.
“We have a card game with animals like those, and so we learnt they were endangered,” her 10-year-old son Youssef said, adding that he felt bad for the animals.
“The fragility (of animals) is the human impact that they are under, that their environment is under,” Bassompierre said. The exhibition will last until March 31st.