One of my current initiatives is to create a dedicated archive of oral histories on Hawaii’s contemporary artists and art culture. I am currently working with my colleagues at the University of Hawaii, and museums across the islands to develop a plan to record and document the work and stories of Hawaii's artists.
Honolulu, Hawaii is one of the richest and most exemplary sites from which to view the globalization of the art world and culture industry. The consequences of colonization, militarization, and touristification have made this isolated Pacific island chain a nexus of materials, peoples, and ideologies flowing on local, regional and global scales. for the past ten year I have been in conversation artists, curators, and art critics from Hawaii, seeking to understand how artists make visible the stakes in the ongoing processes of globalization in the Pacific.
My interviews have thus far been focused on understanding how Hawaii's artistic cultural negotiations can contribute to dialogues about de-colonization and climate change across the globe. The conversations explore how we can ethically negotiate competing and simultaneous demands for the diversity of cultural positions and access to local and global resources.
Many of the artists I have talked to share their aesthetic/ethical experiences of Hawaii and how they seek to activate the spaces of its locality. They muse on the possibilities of aesthetics to overcome the abstraction and generalizations of dominant global metaphors on the one hand, and recalcitrant positions of cultural authenticity on the other.
The interviews explore all angles of the historical effects of globalization as they move from discussions of Masami Teraoka's appropriated ukiyo-e prints; to Paul Pfeiffer's haunting video clips of queen bees fighting for control of the colony; to the use of customary basket weaving techniques and mixed-media installation in the work of Maile Andrade; to the radical commoning practices of Eating in Public.
Art world “centers” can learn much from Hawaii's art scene, especially as the world begins to understand that the earth itself is a very isolated island with limited space and resources.
Soon I will launch some sample interviews and more information on a dedicated website.