Sabah Artist Spends 2 Weeks Creating Artwork For Time Magazine Cover Then Burns It Within 2 Minutes

source: Annice Lyn for Time

Sabah-born contemporary artist Red Hong Yi was commissioned by Time to create an artwork which was destroyed in just two minutes specially for the cover of the magazine’s latest issue.

Red Hong Yi, or better known as Red, whose works have been exhibited at art museums around the world including the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, tackled global climate change as the subject of Time’s cover artwork that featured a 2.3m x 3m world map made out of 50,000 green-tipped matchsticks.

Raising awareness on the global issue, she said in an interview with Time, “The idea came from wanting to highlight a world map, where everyone’s involved, and if one place is affected, the whole place is affected.”

Red was assisted by her team of six individuals to create the art piece in two weeks. Before inserting each matchstick by hand, Red had to design the dimensions and positions for the matchsticks on a computer before laser cutting holes on a board.

Layers of fire retardant paint were also sprayed on the front and back of the “world map” board to control the flames ignited in order to capture the message of the artwork.

Even though Red and her team spent two weeks in Kuala Lumpur creating the masterpiece, it was all gone in a two-minute performance photographed by Annice Lyn, where the artwork slowly burned to reflect the severity of climate change on the earth.

“The whole idea behind that was it takes a long time to build something up, but it can be destroyed really quickly too,” Red said.

Known for tackling global issues through her artwork, Red kicked off a series titled ‘I Am Not a Virus’ to battle racism against Asians just last year while in lockdown.

You can also watch the behind-the-scenes of the Time magazine issue’s feature ‘Climate is Everything’, below:

The print magazine will be on sale on newsstands worldwide starting Friday, 16 April.