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Taiwan artist to highlight Tuvalu dilemma at Venice Biennale

2015/03/09 16:16:08

Taipei, March 9 (CNA) Taiwanese artist Vincent J.F. Huang (黃瑞芳) will represent the South Pacific nation of Tuvalu again this year at one of the world's premier contemporary art exhibitions, displaying his latest art project to highlight the perils facing the island country as a result of climate change.

Huang is working with Dutch-born curator Thomas J. Berghuis to put together Tuvalu's national pavilion at the year's Venice Biennale, which will run from May 9-Nov. 22 in Italy under the theme "All the World's Futures."

At a news conference Monday, Huang said the art project adopts ideas from the Taoist classic "Zhuangzi" (莊子), focusing on the concept of "man and nature as one."

The installation, titled "Crossing the Tide," will address the issue of mankind's pursuit of economic and material gains in today's capitalist world and the impact on the natural environment, he said.

The art installation will depict a scene of only the sea and the sky, symbolizing the disappearance of land masses as a result of rising sea levels caused by global warming, Huang said.

To create a sea effect, he said, his team will pump water from Venice's canals to the venue, while machines will produce smoke to depict clouds.

There will be wooden bridges that will allow visitors to cross over "the sea," the 44-year-old artist added.

Through the project, Huang said, he hopes to spur people to think about environmental justice.

Developing countries such as Tuvalu are at risk because of developed countries' pursuit of economic gains and their enormous volumes of carbon emissions, he said.

Tuvalu's Ambassador to Taiwan Minute Taupo said at the news conference that his small island country is indeed at risk of being submerged as sea levels continue to rise.

Tuvalu is trying to raise international awareness of the problem through participation in several international events, Taupo said.

Huang's "powerful art work that demonstrates our case is very helpful in our efforts," the ambassador said.

In 2013, Huang was commissioned to organize the Tuvaluan pavilion at the Venice Biennale, as the country prepared to participate in the major international art exhibition for the first time.

Prior to that, Huang worked closely with Tuvalu during its participation in an exhibition that was held in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Qatar in late 2012.

His "Animal Delegates," depicting creatures such as penguins and turtles that are likely to be the first victims of global warming, highlighted the environmental crisis in Tuvalu, one of Taiwan's 22 diplomatic allies.

In November 2013, Huang also designed an exhibit for the U.N.'s Warsaw Climate Change Conference -- a horse-drawn cart riding the streets of the Polish capital carrying the Wall Street Bull -- to call attention to the crisis facing Tuvalu.

Concerned about the peril of rising sea levels faced by the South Pacific nation, Huang visited the island country in 2010 and 2012, setting up art installations to draw attention to the crisis.

(By Elaine Hou)