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MAMo Celebrates Cross Fertilization

noe tanigawa
noe tanigawa


  There are group shows, there are theme shows, juried exhibitions and one person shows and today,  curators are using art exhibitions to explore ideas as much as present a finished statement.  This year’s MAMo exhibition, short for Maoli Arts Month, was designed as an experiment in cross fertilization.  HPR’sNoeTanigawa reports.

noe tanigawa
Credit noe tanigawa
Dru Hara, pinhole camera photo from the Pia series, titled after the section of Niu Valley where the photos were taken. Hara's background in environmental science and physics contributes to an interest in water management and the flow of water through his home valley.

“The Lab: Experiments in Photography,” works by KapulaniLandgraf, Ualani Davis and Dru Hara runs through May 28th at the Arts at Marks.  

The Arts at Marks Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Ave.  778-6392

Tuesdays-Saturdays noon to 5 p.m. through May 28; closed Sundays and Mondays

Healoha Johnston is the curator of the Arts of Hawai‘i at the Honolulu Museum.  As guest curator for this year’s MAMo show,  she stripped down to three photographers at different points in their careers. Requiring them to work together for intergenerational cross fertilization

“I also wanted to see the willing ness for experimentation and risk taking.  Because Hawai‘i is a pretty place.  You take a picture, it’s going to be pretty.  So how do you complicate that by photographing a beautiful place and yet have it look like more than just a pretty picture of a pretty place.”

noe tanigawa
Credit noe tanigawa
(l-r) Kapulani Landgraf. "'Eli'eli Kapu, 2003" and "Maka'e, 2012," silver gelatin collages

Johnston considers Kapulani Landgraf a bold risk-taker

“And I thought it would be wonderful, perfect kind of partnership, for a young artist to see the kind of work she makes and work with a curator to develop a body of work.”

Johnston, you see, is plotting the professional associations and the portfolio that are critical to career development. 

“Yeah it’s almost too easy right, to take photographs,” admits Kapulani Landgraf.

Everybody does it!  But Landgraf teaches film photography at KCC.  Only Kcc, Wcc and UH M?noa teach film photography.  The other campuses have gone to digital.

noe tanigawa
Credit noe tanigawa
Ualani Davis. "Siri, am I Hawaiian?", 2016, cyanotype on bleached aloha shirt

  “You have to go in the dark room, you have to work with your hands so it’s a whole different process,” says Landgraf.  “It teaches them patience.”

Making a photograph goes beyond images, even.  An early assignment is four photographs of an egg.  Easy?  But what if you show the egg in your culture, or the history or symbolism of eggs? 

“The project with the egg, it shows you who’s willing to work and who’s willing not to work, because I think in school, creativity is not taught.”

The point is you’re always saying something with your photos, and with a little creativity, it can be more than just “Here I am.”  Johnston found Dru Hara by following his Instagram account.

“What I did see (in Dru’s images) was just that sense of longing in the images, and I was intrigued by that.  I thought, here’s a young person that would benefit from just learning more from someone like Ualani who is experimenting with chemistry.  She’s in a position where she can take some risks because she can problem solve.”

For this show, Ualani Davis explored the definition of an urban Hawaiian.  She turned to Siri for answers.

“I’ve never really focused on the role of the internet and social media on personal identity.”

noe tanigawa
Credit noe tanigawa
Dru Hara.

Davis says this project is really different for her. 

“My previous work tends to be on the quiet side, and then this one, the voice of the piece is a little more established.  And it’s a little more controversial than what I usually do, so it was exciting to explore something new and feel so supported to do that.”

The Mamo 2016 show was designed to produce strong new work.  And it has.

noe tanigawa
Credit noe tanigawa
Nor sure when she had the time but Kapulani Landgraf made these hanging fishnets, "Hopuhopu, 2016" out of pig gut. yes, you can see visages inside the nets, silver gelatin prints.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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