Malaysian artist couple's young child inspires their climate action exhibit


Oscar Lee and Celine Tan, the husband-and-wife duo behind @co2_karbondioksida, standing beside their installation work titled 'To Dream Of Blue Skies' at Muzium Telekom in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Greenpeace Malaysia

An art installation titled To Dream Of Blue Skies, which features an empty baby cot and a "cloud" hanging over it made from crumpled photographs of blue skies, is not something visitors would expect to stumble upon at Muzium Telekom in Kuala Lumpur.

But the artwork, made by husband-and-wife artist duo Oscar Lee and Celine Tan, who are also known as @co2_karbondioksida (Co2), offers a strong climate change message that will draw you into the exhibition hall.

To Dream Of Blue Skies was launched recently by Greenpeace Malaysia to mark the recent International Day of Clean Air For Blue Skies as designated by the United Nations.

A closer look of the art installation, which features 2,500 photographs of blue skies. Photo: Greenpeace Malaysia A closer look of the art installation, which features 2,500 photographs of blue skies. Photo: Greenpeace Malaysia

"If all Malaysians are breathing polluted air, what does that mean for the most vulnerable of us (ie. older adults, pregnant women and infants)?" asks Greenpeace Malaysia.

For Co2 artists Lee and Tan, this question hit home.

As new parents to a baby girl, they created To Dream Of Blue Skies, a collaborative piece representing their hopes of a future with clean air for their child.

"The art piece is a dream cloud hanging over a baby’s crib. The cloud is made from 2,000 photos of blue skies printed on used paper that is sourced from a primary school – and some of those photos are probably yours!" reads a description about the installation.

The installation 'To Dream Of Blue Skies' can be viewed at  Muzium Telekom until Oct 8. Photo: Greenpeace Malaysia The installation 'To Dream Of Blue Skies' can be viewed at Muzium Telekom until Oct 8. Photo: Greenpeace Malaysia

Lee and Tan, who are architects turned art activists are also strong advocates of the "Turn Waste To Art" campaign that they started back in 2020. Through the years, they have worked on recycled and eco-conscious art projects, including commercial and community-driven assignments.

“Who would have thought that we would need to buy air? It wasn’t a thing 10 years ago,” says Lee, expressing his growing concerns over the air quality in Malaysia.

It is estimated that 100% of the population in Malaysia live in areas with an annual average PM2.5 air pollution level of 5-25 μg/m3 or more according to a recent report titled “Different Air Under One Sky: The Inequity Air Research” published by Greenpeace India.

What that means is that we are all breathing in air that is above the World Health Organisation’s guidelines for safe air quality.

The installation – commissioned by Greenpeace Malaysia – took the couple over two weeks to put together.

As you view the installation, the trail of photographs of blue skies over the baby’s crib, or "the cloud" seems to darken under a phantom of sorts, with the baby’s dreams seemingly vanishing into thin air.

However, the spray-painted dark hues do meet light shades of blue at the end, showing that there is still hope for the younger generation if we simply act on climate action now.

"We hope this art piece is able to give some comfort to parents with their own worries on their child’s quality of air especially with the little twist of having a glimmer of hope in the shades of light blue at the whisks of the clouds," concludes Lee.

To Dream of Blue Skies is showing at Muzium Telekom, Jalan Raja Chulan in Kuala Lumpur until Oct 8. Opening times: 9am-5pm (weekdays), 10am-10pm (Saturday) and 10am-5pm (Sunday). Entrance is free.

More info here.

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