Vessel (Les Sauvages)
2016, ceramic, painted cardboard boxes, adhesive vinyl, wood table, 10 x 14 x 5 ft
[Hand-built ceramic figures and natural forms reference imagery from the 1806-1807 wallpaper by Dufour et Cie, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique. Boxes contain 150 wheel-thrown pots.]
I use allegory as a critical strategy. Through my sculptural and installation work I aim to create new meanings upon historical objects, particularly those objects that have endured as ideological scaffolds for empire and power. I am interested in the arguments made by Walter Benjamin and Craig Owens for the theoretical significance of allegory, particularly its visual expression in the ruin. By engaging with the ruin, by asserting the immediacy of my presence through touch and object-making, past and present can exist simultaneously in tension. I want to open up critical space for examining and demythifying ideas of Polynesia, particularly Tahiti and Hawaii, the place of my birth and where my family has lived for six generations. I want to empower my viewers to deconstruct colonial histories for themselves, and to become transformed through this experience.
My recent work, "Vessel (Les Sauvages)," references the Tahiti and Hawaii panels that are part of the panoramic wallpaper, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, created by Dufour et Cie in 1806-1807. My hand-built ceramic figures and natural forms function as a counter-aesthetic: they are distressed and disfigured versions of what one sees in the wallpaper. They disrupt the aesthetic harmony and unity of the image, challenging romantic aesthetics which cloak an ideological political program.