Artists Make ‘Contact’ With The Year 3017
Now in its fourth year, annual contemporary arts exhibition CONTACT returns April 1, and this year, participating artists were asked to see into the future.
With the theme 3017: Hawaii in a Thousand Years, artists depict their visions of what they think the future will hold for the islands.
“There has been a lot of talk about the future of Hawaii and how we’re developing,” explains exhibition manager Josh Tengan. “We wanted to investigate where people thought Hawaii might be in the future.”
Launched in 2014 by Pu‘uhonua Society, which strives to create opportunities for Hawaii artists, CONTACT was created as a way to provide local artists with exhibition opportunities. Open to all forms of art, the exhibition is joined thematically by the idea of ‘contact,’ and examining what that means for Hawaii. Previous themes have included Polynesians and Westerners’ first arrivals in the Islands, Hawaii’s years as U.S. territory, and migratory movement of people in and out of Hawaii.
So this year’s theme of looking ahead is, Tengan feels, a natural progression.
This year’s exhibit was curated by Paradise Cove, an artist collective that encourages people to think critically about Hawaii. Curated from an open call, CONTACT features everything from paintings and drawings to sculpture and mixed media installations.
The goal of this year’s theme, Tengan says, is to bring various perspectives together and “collectively figure out how we can live harmoniously in these islands.”
“It’s about envisioning the future that we can collectively build for Hawaii,” he says. “The future is not certain; the possibilities are open and endless … We’re hoping that anybody who steps foot into
CONTACT will be encouraged to ask themselves what kind of future they want for Hawaii.”
Here’s a closer look at three of the participating artists and their work.
About the artist: Connelly’s interest in art began first as a supplement to his work as an architect.
He has been working in architecture and urban design for about a decade. Along the way, he started exploring land use and restructuring the built environment, and launched Hawaii Futures, an online exhibition that looks into how to incorporate the concept of the ahupuaa into contemporary planning strategies.
“I sort of use the art projects as a platform to talk about larger issues relating to architecture and planning in Hawaii,” he says.
His CONTACT work: Three Houses is an installation of three separate homes — each depicting the usage of materials that he imagines will be utilized in 1,000 years. In the future, his work postulates, there will be a return-to-nature where we utilize local, from-the-land building materials. However, such materials will largely have been constructed in labs.
“The idea is that in 1,000 years, we will have … re-established the ahupuaa in some way,” Connelly says.
“In a way, it is almost utopian because I am saying that we’ve basically restored the watershed. But is it also dystopian because we’ve also had to genetically modify and do all these kind of crazy things to get there?”
About the artist: Gruspe had grown up doodling on his class notes in school, but he never really entertained the idea of a career in art. That is, until his first year in college, Gruspe enrolled in a beginner drawing class on a whim.
Now in his last semester, Gruspe is set to receive his degree in painting.
His CONTACT work: Gruspe has created a painting-sculpture hybrid utilizing a bunch of toxic materials like industrial paint and insulation foam.
He had to wear a mask while he was working. But that, he explains, is precisely the point: The piece reflects the way that building often means utilizing harmful material.
“I was looking at ways that people continue to develop and expand over the land, and I wanted to not so much look at what exactly it would be like in 1,000 years because that is kind of difficult to wrap your mind around, but more focus on the processes that will bring us to where we will be in 1,000 years — that process of building and expanding and the way that that takes a toll on ourselves and the environment.
About the artist: When asked if he remembers a time when his interest in art began, Kulundzic simply says, “since always.”
“I don’t remember myself not drawing,” explains Kulundzic, who moved to the Islands from Paris a year and a half ago.
When he got to college, he thought at first that he should try to pursue a more traditional career like all of his friends. But while studying mathematics, it didn’t quite work out.
“I was really bad in that, and I failed,” he says with a laugh. “As I was failing, I said to myself, I should do something that I really want to do and that I love to do.”
Inspired by themes of religion, faith and martyrdom, Kulundzic’s work often features violence and gore, but in an unexpected way: His characters often seem calm amidst horrific things happening around, or even to, them.
His CONTACT work: Kulundzic has created three paintings for CONTACT, each depicting, as he says, a sort of “sweet apocalypse.”
In creating these works, he thought about a time when the boats and planes might not be able to make it to Hawaii. But even if that were to happen, he thought, things might still be rather pleasant.
In his Pipeline, for instance, there are ships burning off the water, but people are still together on the shore.
The calm-in-the-midst-of-chaos feel is largely inspired by the feelings that he has about Hawaii. The first time he visited with his wife, who is from Hawaii, he was struck by how friendly everyone is.
“I think whatever happens to Hawaii, that feeling will stay,” he says. “It’s the thing that you notice when you arrive here … there is this welcoming spirit.”
Other CONTACT artists include Taiji Terasaki, Mahi La Pierre, Alec Singer & Maxfield Smith, Diane Nushida-Tokuno, Joshua Lake, Jared Pere, Cory Taum and Solomon Enos. CONTACT runs through April 16 at Honolulu Museum of Art School.