a small Area Of Land: Kaka‘ako Earth room, by Sean Connelly

Date: March 22-April 27, 2013

Opening Reception: March 22, 5:30-7:30pm

Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4pm

Location: ii gallery, 687 Auahi Street

Amid ongoing redevelopment construction in Kaka‘ako, Honolulu’s latest “it” neighborhood, Hawai‘i-born, Brooklyn and Honolulu-based designer Sean Connelly is working on his installation A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room). From March 9-15 he and a team of volunteers are filling the ii gallery (pronounced “two eyes gallery”] with 32,000 pounds of volcanic soil and coral sand to create a temporary earth sculpture.

Connelly will form the sandy soil mixture into a freestanding structure that is seven feet high, nine feet long, and four feet wide. The abstract monolith takes geometry to a new level: starting with a basic rectangular block, the sculpture will feature a single sloping surface that aligns with the position of the sun and moon on a key date in the history of land in Hawai‘i. The exact date and time of this Stonehenge-like moment will be revealed on March 22 at the exhibition opening.

The exhibition title is the definition of the term kuleana, as translated in the Dictionary of Hawaiian Legal Land Terms. Coupled with increasingly contentious perspectives on the future use, development, and management of Hawai‘i’s land and natural resources, A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room) uses two of Hawai‘i’s most politically charged materials and highly valued commodities (dirt and sand) to comment on the state of its environmental decline. By focusing viewers’ attention on such a monumental expression of this crucial issue, Connelly hopes to help the public focus and redress its thinking and practices; the end goal being the production of a healthy and self-sustainable future-Hawai‘i.

An architect and urban designer, Sean is a graduate of Castle High School and holds a Doctorate in architecture and an undergraduate degree in environmental urban design from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the artist self-identifies as an “interdisciplinary designer.” Connelly selected the installation’s materials because of its ecological significance and cultural relevance in everyday life for everyday people.

A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room) is an architecturally rendered version and visual art expression of concepts the artist explores in his main research, www.hawaii-futures.com, a digital book about the future of indigenous and western land systems in Hawai’i that explores the convergence of these two approaches to developing the built environment in a sustainable fashion.

A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room) is inspired by Walter de Maria’s 1977 minimalist sculpture The New York Earth Room—a 3,600-square-foot interior earth installation presented and maintained by the Dia Art Foundation. The New York Earth Room has been on permanent display at 141 Wooster Street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood since 1980.

“When Sean first moved to New York, he asked for recommendations on must-see art-related sites,” says exhibition curator Trisha Lagaso Goldberg. “I sent him a list of my top 10 and heading up this list was The New York Earth Room. It was a like a treasure hunt. As Sean ‘discovered’ each site on my list, he would capture a photo and post it to Instagram as proof of his captured bounty. We corresponded back and forth as he made his way around the boroughs and eventually struck up a conversation about Walter de Maria’s earth installation. Sean asked what a version of this might look like in Hawai‘i, on Hawai‘i’s terms.”

Through an artist lecture and roundtable discussion, film screening, and end-of-exhibition demolition party, “The sculpture will act as a centerpiece for open dialogue on form, aesthetics, outdoor-indoor spaces, urban-agriculture zoning, and the cultural-ecological-economy of the future Hawaiian City,” says Connelly. “Ultimately, the goal is to reimagine what it means to be urban in Hawai‘i, and how this may fulfill or obscure our expectations for the future of island living.”

Sponsored by Our Kaka‘ako, Hui Ku Maoli Ola and Ho‘omaika‘i Foundation