Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Talk Story with Franco Salmoiraghi, He Moku Poina ‘Ole Featured Photographer

On Friday, October 10th, 2014, THE KIRC will launch a month-long event at the Bailey House Museum / Maui Historical Society in Wailuku, Maui. An exhibition of photographs captured during the critical time when Kaho‘olawe was returned to the people of Hawai‘i 20 years ago, “He Moku Poina ‘Ole, An Island Not Forgotten” will be on view featuring pieces by three acclaimed Hawai'i photographers: Wayne Levin, Franco Salmoiraghi, David Ulrich, and archaeologist/ writer Rowland Reeve. Complementing the exhibit will be a free opening reception with the artists, talk story sessions and opportunities for schools and community groups to participate.

During a recent breakfast with photographer Franco Salmoiraghi at Manoa's Morning Glass Coffee + Cafe, book designer Barbara Pope, KIRC Executive Director Mike Naho‘opi‘i and myself exchanged information, ideas and stories about the time they spent on Kaho‘olawe 20 years ago creating the larger collection that will be sampled at the Bailey House.

Photo Source: Andrew Rose Gallery

KIRC: Why is Kaho'olawe important to you - and - why did you select the subjects you did for your photographs?

FS: My visits to Kaho‘olawe in the 1970’s and 1980‘s were first as a witness to make photographs that documented the commitment of the people to the restoration of the ‘aina. I was there as a participant, to use photographs to help create an awareness of the struggle and to show the inherent beauty of the island. This was not a forgotten wasteland worthy of being bombed and ignored.

The photographic expeditions in the 1990’s were for a book and exhibition project about Kaho‘olawe for the Bishop Museum. During that time, there was cooperation with the military. I was able to visit areas of Kaho’olawe that had been unavailable before  –– places which were restricted because of live ordnance. This access provided a means of seeing Kaho‘olawe from that point of view for the first time and making photographs of the military presence and infrastructure.

This allowed me to combine those photographs with others from the past to tell a much larger story about Kaho‘olawe. This story of course was always the islands' importance to the Hawaiian people and culture and their commitment to healing and restoration after many years of human neglect and carelessness.

KIRC: Why is it important to continue to share these images in person, rather than online, with the community?

FS: When seeing good prints of photographs in person, there is often a stronger physical connection –– as there may be in any live performance venue. The viewer may pick up direct energy from the print itself as an object, as well as power emanating from the subject matter. I believe that energy may be distracted and diluted when viewed through the digital portal. Also, if there are other viewers present in the exhibition space, there is the opportunity for a shared dialogue concerning the content of the photographs. Questions may arise; Who are the people in the photographs? Why were they so committed to participate in such a difficult “battle” with the U.S. military against the degradation of Kaho‘olawe?

Mike, Barbara & Frank talk story at Morning Glass
He Moku Poina ‘Ole will be on view at the Bailey House Museum / Maui Historical Society October 10 - November 3 (Mon - Sat from 10 AM - 4 PM). The collection will showcase selections from the Bishop Museum’s Kaho'olawe: Rebirth of a Sacred Hawaiian Island (1996, Honolulu, HI) and Smithsonian Institution’s Ke Aloha Kupaa I Ka Aina -- Steadfast Love for the Land (2002, Washington, D.C.) exhibitions.

KIRC program specialists in Hawaiian culture, restoration, ocean resources, UXO (unexploded ordnance) and Kaho‘olawe history can be available by appointment for school visits, talk story sessions or other educational & outreach requests. Interested parties should contact Kelly McHugh at kmchugh (at) kirc.hawaii.gov. For developing details, follow the KIRC at facebook.com/KircMaui. Learn more about the KIRC at kahoolawe.hawaii.gov.

Postcard photograph: Tattoo, Bombs, Camouflage — Kahoolawe © franco salmoiraghi

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