Taiwanese artist Vincent J.F. Huang (黃瑞芳) is to represent Tuvalu at the Venice Biennale this year and set up the South Pacific nation’s first national pavilion at the major international art exhibition.
Huang, who has visited Tuvalu twice to carry out eco-art projects aimed at drawing more attention to the country’s vulnerability to global warming, said in a recent interview that the campaign would continue at the exhibition in Venice.
The project that will appear at the biennale, called Destiny Intertwined, consists of two works highlighting that Tuvalu’s fate is closely connected with the rest of the world, the 42-year-old said.
One of the works will be a nearly 6m tall interactive installation that combines a fuel truck nozzle, a turtle and a bull, he said.
Turtles are an important species in Tuvalu, while “the bull is a symbol of New York, as there is a famous statue of a bull on Wall Street,” Huang said.
When visitors press the nozzle, the turtle is guillotined, Huang said.
The work was also inspired by Hurricane Sandy, which battered the US east coast, including New York, in late October last year, he said.
After seeing how easily a hurricane could wreak havoc in New York, it was clear that “Tuvalu is not the only victim of global warming. The fate of all the people in the world is intertwined,” Huang said.
The other exhibit in the Tuvalu Pavilion will be an aquarium tank holding replicas of world-famous sculptures, symbolizing museum collections submerged under a rising sea caused by global warming.
Huang said he and his team will travel to Venice in mid-May to set up the installations in a 600m2 exhibition space. The biennale runs from June 1 to Nov. 24.
Huang’s latest collaboration with the Tuvalu government comes after they worked together at an official exhibition held in conjunction with the UN climate summit in Qatar late last year.
Huang’s Animal Delegates, depicting some of the creatures that could be the first victims of global warming, such as penguins and turtles, were used to highlight the environmental crisis in Tuvalu, one of Taiwan’s 23 diplomatic allies.
Concerned about the peril of rising sea levels faced by the South Pacific nation, Huang visited the island country in 2010 and last year, where he set up art installations in a bid to draw attention to the crisis.
That led to a closer collaboration with Tuvalu, Huang said, a partnership the Pacific island country’s government proposed to continue at this year’s UN climate summit in Poland.