I hear about my great grandfather through my grandfather and my mother. I have never met him. Different family members paint a picture of this man. The stories are distorted, romanticized, vague, clear. How does his story relate to me? I can imagine him in the way I find useful because he is not a real person to me—he is an image. He is connected to a time and place I never lived. He was born in Okinawa, Japan, and then moved to Hawaii at the turn of the century. He was a pineapple farmer and then a waiter, which was his dream.
In Tsuchi, I interweave different memories of that time and place as metaphors.
Queen Lili’uokalani, the queen of Hawai’i, was overthrown and replaced by a provisional government composed of members of the American Committee of Safety in 1893. She was de-crowned. The pineapple plantation owners kicked out the natives and imported labor (including my great grandfather). The crown and the pineapple.
I’ve been listening to Frank Ferera, a famous Hawaiian musician of Portuguese ancestry born around the turn of the century. He was married to Helen Louise Greenus and toured with her throughout the states appearing in vaudeville.
On December 12, 1919, Frank and Helen were on board the steamship SS President, from Los Angeles back to their home in Seattle. Frank reported that Helen had gone on deck for a walk at 4 a.m. and never returned. After a search failed to turn up the missing Mrs. Ferera, she was presumed lost at sea.
The soundscape for Tsuchi (below) was made in collaboration with Alyssa Moxley and Kevin Carey.
The video is an excerpt of a dance as part of the Chicago Post-Butoh Festival.
See a work-in-progress showing of Tsuchi this Thursday at HCL.
Thursday, July 16
7 PM / $5-$10
High Concept Labs Studio A
2233 S Throop St, Chicago, IL