Unreal: Hawaiʻi in Popular Imagination
December 13, 2018 - January 27, 2019
9:00am - 5:00pm
Bishop Museum’s new exhibition “Unreal: Hawaiʻi in Popular Imagination” presents rare images and objects drawn from one of the largest private collections of Hawaiʻi-themed printed ephemera. The exhibition gives visitors a unique opportunity to see the breadth of Hawaiʻi-themed commercial art through time and sets up a dialectic between unreal depictions in commercial art and the contemporary reality of Hawaiʻi that has resulted from the wide use of stereotypical and culturally misappropriated depictions. One half of Long Gallery will be dedicated to a work entitled ‘Āina Aloha—a touring, story-telling mural about the past and a hoped-for pathway to healing, from a Hawaiian viewpoint. Visitors may interact with the ʻĀina Aloha mural installation by reading and considering a series of prompts on the gallery walls that will encourage viewers to reflect on their own families and lives, their relationship to the land, and their own perceptions of the imagery being presented. The other half of the gallery will present reproductions of commercial ephemera in the form of floor-to-ceiling wallpaper. Select objects drawn from the private collection will punctuate this display. The exhibit will challenge visitors to take a longer look at these ephemeral materials both from a nostalgic and critical standpoint. In looking back on these seemingly serene and charming images, we may be faced with an uncomfortable question: are these daydreams of paradise really harmless?