The Cast Whale Project > Interview with Gil Shachar


With „The Cast Whale Project“ you intend to mold a stranded whale in its life-size. Here, the form of the cast should follow the whale’s naturally position after its death caused by stranding.

What is it in particular that fascinates you about whales?

What is your motivation and intention doing a cast of a whale?

Actually I had no special interest in whales before working on the project. The idea for doing a cast of a stranded whale came in a dream. I just woke up in the night with this image in my head, made a sketch, and put it aside. Only after some years I started doing research as to whether it would be possible at all to realize such a project.

The more I learned about whales, the deeper my fascination became. Whales are wonderful creatures. They are a kind of a miracle, which we hear about since our early childhood from stories, legends and myths. So in a way, they exist not only in reality, but also become a part of our unconscious. 

When I tell people about my idea, usually one of the first questions that arises concerns my motivation in doing this. But very soon the idea turns self explanatory. It really involves so many intellectual and emotional levels that do not need interpretation. It is such an overwhelming image, it has such a tremendous presence, that words become superfluous.


The Kunststiftung NRW supported your research in South Africa for „The Cast Whale Project“ in 2015. If it now comes to funding – by the means of crowdfunding – how will you realize the project? What kind of team would you need at site?

The technical aspect of the project is very complex. The moldmaking has to be done on the beach. This will be the most difficult part. It has to be done immediately after the stranding and within 2 to 3 days, depending on the weather.

The undertaking will take place in South Africa, but we can't know in advance exactly where and when - this depends on nature. So everything has to be prepared in advance. 

I succeeded in obtaining permits for doing the work in South Africa and also in setting up a team, who will start with the moldmaking as soon as a stranding occurs. I will join them as quickly as I can. Head of the team is Lachlan Matthews, himself an artist skilled in casting and also a nature conservationist who works regularly with the department of environmental affairs.

The mold will be made of polyester resin, enforced with fibreglass. It will be divided into transportable sections. When the work on the beach is complete, the mold will be transported to the site of the casting, which still has to be determined. The final sculpture will be cast in epoxy resin.

After considering different options, I decided to try funding the project through crowdfunding. As this is a project which is not commercial and which is also quite an adventure, I thought this would be the most suitable way to finance it. It now depends on the participation and support of many people, as the crowdfunding ends on July 25th, 2017.


After casting: How would you install the molded pieces? Is there any special context or place you imagine seeing the molded whale?

The final sculpture is intended to be presented in a closed exhibition hall and not for the outside. This will enable a more intimate encounter with the work and also place it in the right context. Although the project has many aspects to it - environmental, conservational, scientific and so on, the ideal context for its presentation, in which it retains an open field of interpretation, is the artistic one. 

Interview held by Christina Irrgang