Lest we forget: three species are lost to eternity every hour.
Extinction is studied by scientists. Culturally, however, we risk forgetting the beauty and distinct life of extinct species and our historic relationship with past life forms.
Remembrance Day for Lost Species is driven by a growing coalition of artists and educators including Feral Theatre. It is also supported by the MEMO project and Extinction Symbol. Last year, WWF reported in its Living Planet report that Earth has lost half its wildlife in the last 40 years. However, worse is to come as climate change and habitat loss are leading us into the Sixth Mass Extinction. Now is the time to create new rituals for remembering and mourning what we have lost, and for celebrating and making commitments to what remains.
Since 2011, groups in the UK and internationally have met on the last day of November to hold memorials for extinct species. There have been several ceremonies for the Great Auk (d.1852), including a burial at sea and funeral pyres in coastal Wales and Scotland. In Belgium, families lit candles for disappeared indigenous butterflies. In Brighton, paper flags inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead were waved in a procession for the Caribbean Monk Seal (d.1952). Last year there were a number of centenary memorials to the Passenger Pigeon (d.1914).
Onca will mark the Day with the casting of a Bell for Lost Species to be made at the Onca Gallery in Brighton by mobile foundry/ performance collective Ore and Ingot. This echoes and builds on a call by the MEMO Project for people everywhere to ring bells in memory of lost species at the same time.
Here are some photos from past species remembrance events: