Christmas Island, Naturally
Christmas Island, Naturally
Images by Robert Zhao Renhui
Copyediting by Adeline Chia
Designed by H55 in Singapore
130 Images, 196 Pages, Semi-hard Cover, Bounded.
23 x 30 x 2 cm
This project looks at the ecology of Christmas Island. The nearly 150 years of human settlement have introduced a number of invasive species onto the island. Not only do these newcomers threaten some of the island’s most imperiled species, such as the Abbott’s Booby and Christmas Island Gecko, they have also caused the extinction of other species.
Christmas Island's ecology is considered to be unique due to its endemic flora and fauna and the presence of large populations of land crabs and seabirds, which are the most noticeable fauna on the island. The annual breeding migration of the red crabs is also a well known event. Researchers estimate that 40 million crabs live on the island now, and the number could have been twice that before invasive yellow crazy ants became a problem.
As a result of its unique biodiversity, exceptional endemism and the myriad of threats faced by invasive species, Christmas Island is a high-value conservation area currently gazetted as a strict nature reserve. In recognition of the island’s fragile ecosystems, the 3rd Christmas Island Conservation Plan called for the resettlement of human communities, which eventually led to a relocation of these communities to the Australian mainland. At present, a permit is needed for researchers intending to study biodiversity on the island, and the island remains indefinitely out of bounds to commercial tourism.
The artist, Robert Zhao Renhui undertook a research residency on Christmas Island between 2015-2016 and produced the book, Christmas Island, Naturally. The book consists of 120 images and documents on the extinctions and conservation efforts on the island.
edition of 450
ROBERT ZHAO RENHUI
Robert Zhao Renhui is constantly fascinated with Singaporeans’ controlled coexistence with nature, and his practice is drawn from observations and research inspired by his genuine curiosity about how man interacts with the natural world. He creates photos with a documentary approach, constructing and layering the subject with narratives that cross the boundary between the real and the fictional, creating doubt in the viewer about the image’s authenticity. Robert’s work raises questions about both our fascination with controlling nature and how our reception of a photograph can be manipulated by its presentation. Robert graduated with a Masters (with Distinction) in Photography, Graduate Scholarship Programme from the London College of Communication, London, United Kingdom in 2010 and a BA in Photography from the Camberwell College of the Arts, University of the Arts, London, United Kingdom. Some of his selected solo exhibitions include Final Report of the Christmas Island Expert Working Group, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore (2018), Christmas Island, Naturally, ShanghART M50, Shanghai, China (2017), Singapore, Very Old Tree, National Museum of Singapore, Singapore (2017), A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, Centre of Contemporary, Photography, Melbourne, Australia (2015), and Flies Prefer Yellow, Kadist Art Foundaton, San Francisco, California, USA (2014) amongst many others. He has also participated in group exhibitions extensively both locally and internationally such as Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, France, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Poland, United States, Australia, Brazil, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Albania. His works are in the collection of the National Museum of Singapore, Singapore, UBS Art Collection, UBS Global, Statoil Art Collection, Stavanger, Norway, Kadist Art Foundaton, San Francisco, USA UOB Art Collecton, Singapore, and Singapore Art Museum, Singapore. Robert lives and works in Singapore.