The Shape of the Sky creates a collective space for sharing stories of past traditions alongside contemporary enquires of how we can navigate with the sea as a centre. Islanders’ oral histories focus on the abundance of natural resources, methods of a sharing economy and wisdom obtained from ancestral knowledge. Published lies have damaged islands with extractive colonial desire the remnants of which continue today. One such lie appeared in the Straits Times Overland Journal in 1881 stating that King Kalākaua was selling the Hawaiian kingdom to Germany while circumnavigating the globe. Simultaneous to these lies were positive examples of friendship, meals shared between diverse people, gift exchanges and special ceremonies held with local counterparts while circumnavigating the globe. Navigation is one tool for subverting colonial methods of extractive knowledge with indigenous methods of wayfaring both at sea and on land. These resilient threads are being woven from past to present making connections that steer towards a bright future vision.
This exhibit is one point on a net of open conversations between diverse members on the links between sea and land in Singapore/Johor and Hawai‘i found through sharing of culture. Creative methods for survivance amidst impositions both past and present on economies of sharing will be practised in the space itself along with concurrent programming, which includes a shared meal, a talk and a workshop with youth today. Methods of resilience will be shared by community members who cherish the value, knowledge and resources on their island. Visions for islands’ sovereign futures are based on deep respect for the voices of the plants, dirt, ancestors and water in each place. Open conversations will emerge here even with restrictions on national borders and physical gatherings with the aim to link people working for change now.
Moderated by: James Jack (Artist)
This talk story session will explore wayfaring as a practice of navigating out of lies told about our people, land and stories and into the depth of abundance. We will draw upon Malayo-Polynesian encounters from the 19th century, contemporary revival of indigenous voyaging knowledge and the power of creative links between islanders occurring today. Relearning the shapes of the sky together we will weave a net that may carry us towards the positive futures we want to see.
Link to watch: https://www.facebook.com/events/669555387013192/
Link to watch: https://www.facebook.com/events/2450546525243930/
The Shape of the Sky is a solo exhibition by James Jack, an American Asian artist of Gaelic Islander descent who engages layered histories tied to place as a way to concentrate on instances of positive change achieved through community-led initiatives. Curated by Dr. Wang Ruobing.
Comma Space, Singapore