In the Wake of Cook, 2016.
This work deals with the production of knowledge about the Pacific, and the layered discourses that have examined European-Polynesian histories, from the earliest travel logs to neo-romantic mythologizing ("The Fatal Impact").
Red Wake Study Room, 2016. Installation designed as a fake museum residency for the study of the panoramic wallpaper, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique.
HMS Endeavour’s Coordinates, 2016.
200 watercolor drawings of imagined waves and ship wakes, sorted by Polynesian coordinates, from James Cook's HMS Endeavour voyage, 1768-1771.
Summation: 1778 to 2016, 2016. Adding machine printout shows the sum of all numbers between 1778 and 2016, from the date of James Cook's arrival in Hawaii to the present day.
While living and working in New York, Rachelle Dang is seeing her birthplace of Hawaii in a rear view mirror. In this rear view mirror there is an overload of history, information, and ideas. Rachelle is living out the role of detective, anthropologist, artist, geographer, journalist, historian, and reporter - but ultimately, she identifies as an amateur. When you have so many ideas that they are constantly pummeling other ideas in progress, how do you manage?
Operating within the parameters of a fake museum residency from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rachelle is cataloguing the contents of her head into an extensive, loose-leaf encyclopedia. This framework of the residency asks that Rachelle generate new readings and interpretations of a work in the Museum's collection. She has chosen the Hawaii and Tahiti panels of the 1806-1807 panoramic wallpaper by Dufour et Cie, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, which Rachelle has reproduced at full size (104 in x 125 in).
This installation consists mostly of stacked boxes filled with drawings, research, books, photos, and other items. Some of the boxes are empty, which makes the installation look like a fake movie set for an obsessive reporter, but it could also just be the start of this long-term investigation. On top of the boxes are different items such as pots of bougainvillea flowers, a calculator adding up the years from 1778 (the year the first European came to Hawaii) to the year 2016, stacks of drawings, and other fragments of information.
Rachelle has created this set of parameters so that she can operate as a sleuth during this long-term project. In this project, she is uncovering histories of the Pacific, cataloguing facts, tracing lineages, while also making illogical drawings and sculptures that are more intuitive pieces of the puzzle.
- Maggie Ellis