This year, the world has faced the life-changing calamity of COVID. Vanuatu, an island nation east of Australia has been COVID-free. But not problem-free: its economy has been dramatically diminished by the loss of tourism and it has continued to battle a threat to its very existence. That is, the effects of climate change.
The impacts of climate change on Vanuatu, how indigenous (‘kastom’) knowledge might help address this crisis, and the bringing of traditional art and styles into contemporary practice are the themes of a new exhibition in Vanuatu. The Step Folem Step exhibition which opened at the Fondation Suzanne Bastien gallery on September 9 features painting, installation, photography, music, carving, and performance-based works. It’s the result of a collaboration between artists and cultural organisations in Vanuatu and researchers at the Australian National University: Dr Maya Haviland from the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS), and Professor Margaret Jolly and Dr Siobhan McDonnell of the College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP).