Vincent J.F. Huang (黃瑞芳), an eco-artist from Taiwan, writes:
As I write these words, I am preparing to fly to an international climate conference in Doha in Qatar,
as an independent climate activist from Taiwan. COP 18 (the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change) is on tap, and I will go there as part of a delegation from the island
nation of Tuvalu, where I have exhibited some of my eco-art installations before.
While Taiwan does not have many climate activists working in the
international arena, it's my goal to put my stamp as an artist on climate issues worldwide. My goal
is to help wake up the world -- and
Taiwan -- about the very real dangers of unchecked climate change and
global warming in the future.
This week in Doha, I plan to make a plea for
more attention to be paid to people of the Pacific
island of Tuvalu. I created several climate-related art installations
over the past few years to draw more
international attention to the situation Tuvalu is facing in regard to
rising sea levels. It's not going to be a pretty picture if worst comes to worst,
and many islanders and Tuvalu officials are worried.
It's take time and money for an independent artist like me to travel to places
like Tuvalu and Doha, without government support. I've been lucky to get some
travel grants from the Taipei Yuan Shan Rotary Club. (台北圓山扶輪社) for my first two visits to
Tuvalu, and I'm grateful. Taiwan's ambassador in Tuvalu, Larry Tseng (曾瑞利), was also very helpful
However, in general, it's difficult for independent artists like me
to get funding in
Taiwan since my climate-related works are not for sale or for investment by art
collectors. Many corporate enterprises in Taiwan talk a lot
about eco-friendly beliefs but very few CEOs want to help me or other Taiwanese artists like me.
I was born in 1971 in the small town of Shuili (水里) in Nantou
County (南投), and as a young man I remember very well the killer earthquake of September 21, 1991.
That earthquake made
me start to think hard about the relationships between man and nature,and then later, as an artist, I knew
I needed to say something about the destructive power of nature through
So here I am in Qatar attending COP 18, and exhibiting some of my art pieces on the sidelines
of the meetings. I see my job to remind people that we
are all global citizens who should be aware of and responsible for
current and and future environmental problems.
My view of the future for the island nation of Taiwan and the entire planet? I'm worried, but of course I cannot
predict exactly what will happen or when. Will parts of Taipei City be under water someday due to rising sea
levels worldwide when major parts of Greenland and Antarctica glaciers melt? It could happen.
We need some new approaches to wake people up. News
reports, visual images on television and blogs about the earthquake
and tsunami Japan and Superstorm Sandy recently in Manhattan and New
Jersey showed just how unpredictable Nature can be. We Taiwanese need to be on
alert, too. Natural disasters can be up close and real as Typhoon Morakot showed.
And for people living in Arctic regions and in a remote
island nation like Tuvalu, future disasters could be real. As a Taiwanese
eco-artist, I feel we
all need to face these issues no matter where we live on this planet
now. That's why I've come to Qatar.
I feel that the economic system of capitalism is one of the
key reasons for the lack of progress at climate conferences in the past, and
I worry the COP 18 might turn out the same.
Sadly, the leaders of both developing countries and wealthy nations
care only about their own economic situations, and they selfishly
refuse to do much or anything to solve our climate or environmental
Next year, I am going to work with an international group hoping to protect the
polar regions of our planet and take part in a three-week visit to the Arctic in
I hope Taiwan can
take a more active part in global efforts on climate issues in the
future, and help to put Taiwan on the world map in a new way, too.