Ninety-nine stuffed animals recently sailed into the Huangpu River in Shanghai, China, on a little fishing boat. But no worries — though the scene may have shared a resemblance to Noah’s Ark from the Bible, it isn’t some type of apocalyptic warning. In fact, it was to raise awareness of a major ongoing issue in China.
By now, you’ve probably heard an infinite number of horror stories depicting China’s terrible water pollution situation, including the one where some 16,000 dead pigs were dumped and found in the same Huangpu River last year. Why is this especially a major issue? The Huangpu River supplies the city with some of its drinking water. Having grown up in Shanghai myself, I nearly went into cardiac arrest when word broke out.
Sadly, even with all the media attention, not a lot has actually been done to relieve the problem. This is where New York-based Cai Guo-Qiang stepped in with his art piece, titled “Ninth Wave”, to promote his cause of putting an end to water pollution.
Cai produced each and every single one of the 99 animals, along with the boat in his hometown of Fujian, China. According to the Wall Street Journal, Cai explained the concept behind the mini ark: “The creatures are depicted as near death — as though seasick from the currents of our times.” As for why he chose 99 animals, he reportedly said that it is a number that symbolizes “infiniteness” in China.