In March 2013, 16,000 dead pigs were discovered in Shanghai’s Huangpu River, one of the city’s primary sources of drinking water. To artist Cai Guo-Qiang, this was the latest example of China’s ineffectual environmental policy. His new exhibition, The Ninth Wave, is using the same waterway to call attention to the country’s ecological problems. His large fishing boat packed with 99 life-sized, fabricated animals is reminiscent of Noah’s ark, though these pandas, leopards, and polar bears look seasick and defeated.
The installation was inspired by a painting, also called The Ninth Wave, created in 1850 by Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky. That work features shipwreck survivors threatened by menacing swells. Unlike the painting, which shows the frightening power of nature, Guo-Qiang’s work seems to suggest the terrible power that human beings exert on the natural world. The ship is currently sailing down the river and will dock at the The Power Station of Art, a museum on the banks of the Huangpu. It will be on display with 10 other works from August 8 through October 26.