An Imagined Future
Pig intestines and Polynesian science fiction. Those are two seemingly disparate facets that artists Solomon Enos and Marques Hanalei Marzan have managed to meld together in their joint exhibit REBOOT: Fashion Futures, which is on display now through Oct. 25 at Ala Moana Center’s Fashion Annex. “REBOOT: Fashion Futures is a forward-looking exhibit that envisions alternate futures from a Hawaiian perspective,” explains Melissa May White, co-founder of the Hawaii Fashion Incubator, which partnered with Ala Moana and Na Mea Hawaii to conceptualize and curate the project. “The exhibit creates a visual narrative about who we might be and how we might dress 1,000 or more years from now.”
A combined collection of works from Enos and Marzan, the pieces come together in an examination of fashion through a cultural lens — where what we wear has meaning and ritual embedded into it. Marzan’s work, which was created for Maoli Arts Movement’s annual Wearable Art Show, draws upon elements that are significant in Hawaiian culture — like the use of knots that were associated with royalty in ancient Hawaii — and incorporates them into modern garments. Enos’ illustrations, meanwhile, depict a theoretical representation of how Polynesian cultures may have dressed in the future if outside influences had not been a factor.
Metro recently talked with both artists about their work.
Tell me about the origin of your pieces in the exhibit.
ENOS: I began with a project that I had already been working on for almost 16 years, called Polyfantastica, which is Polynesian science fiction … It is kind of like this thought of what we would be doing in Hawaii if the aboriginal people of Hawaii were never contacted. Where would we all be if our cultures were kind of left, not necessarily alone, but left to develop their own individual native aesthetic?
MARZAN: All of (my) pieces were walked down the runway of MAMo in various years … it’s a combination of pieces intermixed with one another. Some collections I focus in on the material itself or … some highlight natural dyes and natural materials, like one dye from the beach naupaka plant that created this beautiful green color, or beetle wings … (One dress) is made out of pig intestines … I just loved the idea of working with this material, especially in a Hawaiian context, because your na‘au, the Hawaiian word for intestines, is actually the seat of your emotions.
ENOS: The third part is the artwork I did on the wall are these networks made up of people — they are reaching and grabbing and they are actually holding onto each other, and they are having all of these different kinds of associations, and it’s really meant to be the fabric of our society … A way for us to remember that we are all connected to a single fabric.
What does this exhibit mean to you — why is this something that you wanted to participate in?
MARZAN: The things that our ancestors were creating 200 years ago were all fresh and new and creative, but we think of those things as traditional today. If we create things that are innovative and cool today, it’s the same thing. My presentation is maintaining a link and referencing the past, and knowing that those references will always be continued into the future.
ENOS: And all of this is happening in a mall, which is one of the coolest things about it. Fashion in a mall is a really great and immediate way to start talking about culture and form and design and aesthetic.
Why is having that link from past to future important?
MARZAN: If you think about it from a historical context, there were rituals and ceremonies very particular to certain events — I think you see that in every culture. There is a lot of meaning imbued in particular garments. And I think that is something that we are missing today … that significance isn’t really appreciated or even thought about today.
ENOS: It is in all of our cultures that we all used to know where all of our things came from. In Hawaiian culture, a kihei was such a sacred thing, and it was a bearer of a story. But what eventually happened is that we live in a reality now where … the story behind the clothes that we are wearing is lost. And that makes us numb to the impact — where is it coming from? Are those families safe? Are those communities safe? And those things are missing because we have lost the stories behind the (clothes) and instead, they’ve only just become commodities without stories.
What is your goal with the exhibit?
ENOS: This is probably what I really want to leave people with: the reminder that everything we wear, historically, came with a story. And there is going to be a time again when we ask not only where did you buy this from, but are those people who made those clothes safe, are they happy? When we learn the story of where we are getting (our clothes) from, the beauty on the outside will match the beauty or the morality of what we are wearing. It’s a bit of a loftier goal. But why not?
REBOOT: Fashion Futures is on display through Oct. 25, from noon to 5 p.m. daily.