Fat Bear Week 2020

Brown bear 747, the winner of Fat Bear 2020, stands in a river hunting for salmon to fatten up before hibernation at Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, US, on 14th September. PICTURE: Lian Law/US National Park Service/Handout via Reuters.

• In Alaska, leaves are falling, daylight is dwindling and salmon-devouring brown bears are racing the clock to pack on the pounds they need to survive their winter hibernation. Unbeknownst to the enormous bruins, some of them are also competing in Katmai National Park and Preserve's Fat Bear Week, Alaska's annual celebration of gluttony and nature's abundance. For seven days starting on Wednesday, wildlife fans will submit online votes in a playoff-style competition among 12 of the park's fattest brown bears photographed at the salmon-rich Brooks River. The winner will be announced on 5th October. The week-long online extravaganza is a joint project of the park and two non-profit partners, the Katmai Conservancy and explore.org, a multimedia organisation that operates live nature cameras around the world including its Katmai "bear cam". It grew out of a single-day promotion in 2014 that was expanded to a full week the following year and becomes more popular each year, with online voting growing to nearly 650,000 votes cast in 2020 from 55,000 votes cast in 2018. Naomi Boak, a Katmai media ranger, says the popularity is easy to understand: "They get to do something and be healthy that we don't get to do, and that is be fat."

Paris' famous landmark, the Arc de Triomphe, has been wrapped in silver and blue fabric in the realisation of a long-held dream by late artist couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The €14 million project, which was conceived by the couple as far back as 1961, invites visitors to not only see but touch the artwork with those climbing to the roof terrace having to walk on it. French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot reportedly described the installation as “a formidable gift offered to Parisians, the French and beyond, to all art lovers.” The monument, the wrapping of which was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will remain wrapped until 3rd October.

Spain Bilbao artwork Bihar

 A fibreglass sculpture entitled 'Bihar' ('Tomorrow' in Basque), by Mexican hyperrealist artist Ruben Orozco, is submerged in the Nervion river in Bilbao, Spain, on 27th September. PICTURE: Reuters/Vincent West

Staring impassively out from the murky waters of Bilbao's River Nervion, the eerily lifelike face of a young girl drowning in the tide has been unsettling people in the Spanish city since she appeared unannounced last week. Mexican hyper-realist artist Ruben Orozco created the enigmatic figure, entitled Bihar (Tomorrow in Basque), for a campaign by the BBK Foundation - the charitable arm of Spanish lender Kutxabank - to encourage debate around sustainability. The goal is for people to be aware that "their actions can sink us or keep us afloat", the artist told Spanish news website Nius. As the tides rise and fall, the 120 kilogram fibreglass figure is submerged and uncovered each day, which BBK said was a reflection on what could happen "if we continue to bet on unsustainable models" such as those that contribute to climate change. "At first it gave me a feeling of stress, when more of the face was out of the water, but now to me she communicates sadness, a lot of sadness," said visitor Triana Gil. "She doesn't even look worried, it's as if she is letting herself drown." 'Bihar' is not the first Orozco work to surprise and move Bilbao. Two years ago his life-size statue of a lone woman sitting on a park bench, 'Invisible Soledad,' sparked a debate about the isolated lives of the elderly. 

- With YERETH ROSEN and VINCENT WEST, Reuters.