Last year, the Philippine agency Dentsu Jayme Syfu married art and advocacy and won big at Cannes. This was for their large installation of a dead mammal that they constructed on the shores of Naic, Cavite in 2017. Done in partnership with Greenpeace Philippines, it was meant to communicate the adverse effects of single-use plastics.
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For its efforts, it won a Gold Lion and a Silver Lion at the 65th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The campaign, led by creative director Biboy Royong, also won at several other festivals around the world including in New York, Pattaya, and at the APAC Effie Awards and the Asia-Pacific Tambuli awards.
The artwork, titled “Dead Whale,” was in response to reports that the Philippines is the third highest contributor of plastic waste in the world. Two years ago, passersby at the resort where the installation was laid out took noticed and it trended on social media. The installation was dismantled after three days to prevent any of the waste inside to wash onto the nearby waters.
A year after that Cannes win, and Royong’s whale is back, this time spread out across the lawn of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. This iteration is bigger at about 78 feet, and made out of gathered bottles, straws, garbage bags, and other wastes from around the metro.
“Cry of the Dead Whale,” this newer work, has been greeting guests at the famed Pasay stage since Earth Day a couple of weeks ago and will stick around until May 26. Mounting this for a longer period of time will give more people a chance to experience what it might feel like to encounter, or be confronted by, a decomposing whale victimized by the increasing presence of plastic in our oceans.
For this year’s installation, a new element was added—a dead baby whale inside the belly of its mother. It is meant to represent millennials, the generation that will inherit the future of our oceans. It is both a statement and question directed at this young audience, and aims to jumpstart discussions on whether generations to come would still get to enjoy or experience the wonders of the ocean. It wants people to ask questions such as “What can I do?” or “Am I ready to give up plastic?” or “Where can I start?”
In reference to this new element, Royong says in an interview with Reuters that their message for this “symbolizes the new generations, make people wonder if they will still see living whales or other sea creatures in the future due to the garbage problem.”
“The Cry of the Dead Whale” may be viewed at the CCP front lawn until May 26. For more information, call 832-1125, or visit culturalcenter.gov.ph.