Artist’s work draws attention to Tuvalu ahead of UN summit

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Oct 01, 2012 - Page 3

A local artist has created an eco-art project in Tuvalu to highlight the threat rising sea levels caused by global warming pose to island nations and draw attention to the issue for an upcoming international summit on climate change.

Vincent Huang (黃瑞芳), who visited the South Pacific island nation in the middle of last month to create the installation artworks, said in a recent interview that his eco-art project has been warmly welcomed by the Tuvaluan government.

“They [the artworks] sent a message” of willingness to jointly launch other eco-art projects during a UN Climate Change Conference set to take place in Doha from Nov. 26 through Dec. 7, Huang said after meeting top Tuvaluan government officials.

During a four-day stay in Tuvalu that began on Sept. 17, Huang and his crew set up an installation art piece on a beach consisting of a fuel truck nozzle tied in a knot. The 4m by 2m artwork also featured an image of a polar bear relaxing in a hammock. It symbolizes the end of the world’s reliance on oil and a move back toward a life of simplicity, Huang said.

Another one of Huang’s installations, set up in the waters off the country’s coastline, featured images of polar bears squeezed into oil drums, a concept inspired by oil giant Royal Dutch Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Arctic region.

Oil exploration causes environmental damage and continued global warming could put Tuvalu in an even more precarious situation as a result of rising sea levels, the 41-year-old artist said.

Tuvaluan Governor-General Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli expressed his gratitude for Huang’s concern and his efforts to draw attention to the fact that Tuvalu would be one of the first victims of a rise in sea levels as a result of global warming.

“I think this kind of assistance is so important to us,” the governor-general said in a video in which he commented on Huang’s project.

Huang’s art project in Tuvalu coincided with a visit to the islands by the UK’s Prince William and his wife on Sept. 18 and Sept. 19, which the artist said would help garner more international media attention for his environmental message.

During another trip to Tuvalu in 2010, the artist waded out to a reef on the country’s main island where he erected a small sculpture of a desiccated mermaid made of dried coconut shells and pieces of palm trees.

The figure of the dried Little Mermaid represented the failure of the UN Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in late 2009, the artist said.