The Baiji's Last Swim
A Performance to Provide Witness to Extinction
Performed by Mimi Jong on erhu, and Stacey Kranick in the water
Friday July 19, 2013
On the Allegheny River in Millvale, PA
Presented by The Drift
Documentation and support provided by The Drift, Daniel Luchman, Ben Filio, David Bennett, Ivette Spradlin
About the work: The Baiji's Last Swim is a piece designed as a re-enactment of an extinction that took place sometime between 2004 - 2006 on the Yangtze River in China. The work allows me to present to a small audience the Baiji River Dolphin (Chinese River Dolphin) on her last swim before going extinct. The musician plays a requiem and the dolphin is seen as pure light. A scuba diver performs as the dolphin. The entire performance lasts about 25 minutes, is improvisational, and begins with the release of a handmade smoke bomb. This mammal was on earth for over 20,000 years only to disappear in a polluted river without a witness. This beautiful and large animal had myths, legends, songs and stories created for her because she was, for a long time, so revered and loved by the people. I could never shake the image of the last dolphin going down without a witness, and have been developing ideas for this work since 2007 with the first humble version on the Iowa River in Iowa City while I was a graduate student at the University of Iowa. I will continue this performance until it has carried me to many more rivers, eventually producing it on the Yangtze River.