Whitney Biennial 2014

Solo en Inglès

Hear directly from artists as they discuss the thoughts, processes, and ideas behind their work in the 2014 Biennial. The guide also features commentary from Biennial curators Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms, and Michelle Grabner.

315Ei Arakawa and Carissa Rodriguez


Ei Arakawa, _Hawaiian Presence (Kauai)_, 2014. Wire, fabric, straw, and plastic. Headpiece: 60 x 60 in. (152.4 x 152.4 cm). Wood structure: 48 in. (121.9 cm). Headpiece structure by Ellen Christine Couture. Wood structure by Michael Caputo. Collection of the artist; courtesy Overduin & Co., Los Angeles

NARRATOR: An installation—and performance set—by Ei Arakawa and Carissa Rodriguez occupies the middle of this room. The installation includes a freestanding wall with paintings on either side—these are made out of Hawaiian volcanic salt. There are also two vitrines, one holding a clock and the other its case, and three custom-made hat racks. Arakawa and Rodriguez use these objects in a creative examination of the Pacific Rim’s role in the politics, economics, and imaginative life of the United States.  


STUART COMER: They began to really think about the Pacific, the Pacific Islands, in a slightly fun and slightly critical way. 


NARRATOR: Curator Stuart Comer. 


STUART COMER: To maybe think about our expectations and our clichés and our stereotypes about those cultures, ranging from the tropical island fantasy to maybe lingering political ideas about Pearl Harbor. And to really play with those ideas through a series of objects, paintings, and performances that will happen throughout the show. 


There will also be a series of mobile display structures housing hats that have been produced for Ei, and each hat represents either one of the Hawaiian islands or the island of Manhattan. The hats themselves will be worn by performers at different points throughout the show, and they will be animated in a pretty crazy way. Ei has also been working closely with a woman who has expertise in histories of Hawaiian chanting, dance, and performance. So a group of performers will be chanting, drawing on these Hawaiian traditions, to begin to move through the space wearing these island hats and then gradually will interact with the painting in a very surprising way—but I don’t want to give away the surprise. 


So he really turns the gallery into a performance forum or an arena for action. So it was always important to me to have this idea that images can be more kinetic. And we often think of moving images as simply films and videos, but I love the way in Ei’s work that the image takes on a much more dynamic role. 

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