Honolulu's Bishop Museum has announced its latest exhibit, "Unreal: Hawaii in Popular Imagination" which will be on display from July 14 through Jan. 27, 2019.
The exhibit focuses on works selected from one of the largest private collections of Hawaii-themed printed materials in existence. The installation is designed to spur an analysis of the unreal depictions in commercial art and the contemporary reality of Hawaii stemming from widespread distribution of stereotypical and culturally misappropriated representations. These Eurocentric, commodified interpretations of Hawaii enticed people to visit the islands and consume products infused with the imagined glamour and exotic allure of the islands.
Half of the Long Gallery will be dedicated to Aina Aloha, a touring, interactive mural created by six native Hawaiian artists: Al Lagunero, Meleanna Meyer, Harinani Orme, Kahi Ching, Carl F.K. Pao and Solomon Enos.
"Aina Aloha explores a wide range of persistently difficult issues that surface repeatedly in the Hawaiian community today," Meleanna Meyer, a filmmaker and arts educator, said in a statement. "This two-sided work is 20 feet long and invites contemplation and hoped-for interaction, dialogue, and further reflection about our beloved Hawaii and the need for continued education and truth telling in facing Hawaii's history."
The mural includes a series of prompts on the gallery walls that encourage viewers to examine their own families and lives, their relationship to the land, and their perceptions of the exhibit.
The other half of the gallery will display hundreds of reproductions of commercial prints in the form of floor-to-ceiling wallpaper made for the exhibition.
"This exhibition invites us to reflect on the power of visual arts, who creates it, and for what purposes," said Melanie Ide, president and CEO of Bishop Museum. "The Aina Aloha mural expresses both the trauma felt and healing ability within a community. With the piece set in juxtaposition against stereotypical iconography of Hawaii, we hope to generate a dialogue about how Hawaii's history and culture evolved in the past, and how it may now be shaped."
The exhibit also includes a large kiosk mimicking a newsstand stocked with everyday objects, such as food, postcards, paperback books, comic book and periodical reproductions that visitors can peruse, displays showing Hawaii-themed film trailers and TV commercials, a two-piece hula costume from the 1930s, and a listening station with hapa-haole music from the 1930s through the 1950s.