The Lost Rhino creative

Highlights of The Lost Rhino

In our latest installation The Lost Rhino, artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg presents different interpretations of what a rhino is. As a collective, these pieces explore what it means for a species to become extinct and from that point only live on in our imagination. Take a peek at what's inside The Lost Rhino installation. 

The Lost Rhino closes 19 March.

The Substitute gallery preview

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg's The Substitute

Created by artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg this life-sized digital projection of a northern white rhino forces audiences to come face-to-face with what we have lost. In 2018, the last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died and with only two females left, the subspecies became functionally extinct. Mimicking the creature's sounds and movements, Ginsberg's projection starts off pixelated and unaware of its surroundings, before becoming increasingly more lifelike as it roams the empty, sterile space. Based on rare research footage and created using artificial intelligence, it forces us to reflect on the fact that once something is lost it can never be truly recreated.

The closest living relative to the extinct northern white may play a role in its ‘de-extinction’. Southern white rhinos are expected to be used as surrogates which will carry artificially inseminated foetuses created from harvested cells. This particular rhino was killed 100 years ago so that it could be displayed in the Museum. Despite a lifelike appearance, it is just a preserved object. 

Close-up of a facsimilie of Durer's rhino


Albrecht Dürer's Rhinoceros

See a facsimile of German artist Albrecht Dürer's famous woodcut print of a rhinoceros, The image is known the world over. Created in 1515, this iconic woodcut print was featured in many historical texts and dominated the public consciousness for hundreds of years after its creation. Incredibly, Dürer created it without ever actually seeing a rhino for himself. Instead he worked from a letter describing an Indian rhino and a sketch made by an unknown artist who'd seen the animal for themselves. Unsurprisingly, Dürer's rhino is not particularly accurate. Not only does it have an extra horn it also appears to be covered in armour. Despite these errors, the print was widely reproduced, fixing an incorrect image of rhinos in the public's mind until the early 1800s when people had the opportunity to see rhinos touring the continent with their own eyes. 

Image of a close-up of white rhino heart cells

Northern white rhino heart cells

Syncing with the beat, this film of northern white rhino heart cells pulsating examines the role of science in preserving species. Scientists have been preserving northern white rhino cells since 1979. These beating heart cells were grown in the lab from samples taken from Angalifu, one of the last northern white rhinos, who died in 2014. But they weren’t always heart cells. Researchers originally collected Angalifu's skin cells, then in the lab they turned these into stem cells - a special type of cell that can turn into any other type of cell. For the purposes of the film, these stem cells were then turned into heart cells, juxtaposing the life-affirming beat with the sterile environment of the lab. 

Taxidermy rhino specimen

Taxidermy southern white rhino

The closest living relative to the extinct northern white may play a role in its ‘de-extinction’. Southern white rhinos are expected to be used as surrogates which will carry artificially inseminated foetuses created from harvested cells. This particular rhino was killed 100 years ago so that it could be displayed in the Museum. Despite a lifelike appearance, it is just a preserved object. 

See these thought-provoking pieces as part of our new installation The Lost Rhino, open until February 2023 in the Jerwood Gallery in the Blue Zone. Book your free ticket now.