Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner is known for her poems about climate change. She is a poet from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. This archipelago is threatened by the rising sea level. With a rising sea level, she loses her land. I wrote about her most famous poem ‘Tell Them’ here which she recited during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.
Last year Kathy was invited to the 2017 Honolulu Biennial in Hawaii. The Biennial focus on art from the Pacific, the Asian continent and the Americas. She took the invitation and for her it was the first introduction to art outside the Pacific islands. She decided to make an installation with her friend Greg Dvorak. At the same time Trump won, and like many others she was shocked. She was making plans to relocate from the Marshalls to the state of Oregon. As she said she ‘wasn’t excited about leaving home and going into the belly of the beast’.
Although Kathy isn’t an expert on healthcare she want to do her artwork at the Biennial about the fact the a lot of people from het islands move to Hawaii for better care.
The original proposal for the Biennial installation was entitled “Islands Dropped from a Basket.” This was taken out from my poem Tell Them. This, the situation on healthcare and the fact that Trump won were the three ingredients. Which results in the powerful, almost hypnotic poetry video posted above. Difficult stuff for non natives but very powerful worth watching several times.
I decided to write something new to respond to my fears about Trump, the resentment I have about our numerous issues with accessing health care in the US, and link it all to baskets and a legend about a giant who dropped islands from his basket.
She wrote a long blog post about the background of this artwork and how it was made. Worth reading, what a talent she is!