JOSEPH MAIDA: New Natives at Daniel Cooney

Aikue #2 (Hawaiian, Chinese, Irish, Portuguese), 2011
Photograph © 2013 Joseph Maida

 Pu’u O Mahuka (Hill of Escape), 2013
 Photograph © 2013 Joseph Maida

Xayasana (Thai, Laotian), 2010
Photograph © 2013 Joseph Maida

New Natives at Daniel Cooney Fine Art

The series New Natives, Joseph Maida's first solo exhibition at Daniel Cooney Fine Art, was originally inspired by Barack Obama, the first non-white, non-mainland elected President of the United States - significant not only for our country, but across the world.

"New Natives are a group of portraits of aspiring male models of mixed ethnicity and race from Hawaii. These subjects are scouted through social media and photographed in their local terrain around the metropolis of Honolulu. Drawing from Hawaii’s royal history as well as its Eastern and Western influences, this series introduces visions of masculinity, identity, and sexuality, which upend conventional hegemony."–New Native Exhibition Catalog

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Aikue (Hawaiian, Chinese, Irish, Portuguese) is portrayed at the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones, one of Oahu’s two ancient birth spots, dating back to the 12th century.  He chose this place to honor his Hawaiian ancestry and displayed a great sense of trust by selecting somewhere sacred that would directly connect me with his culture. This is not something that I take lightly, since the openness of the Hawaiian people has been exploited repeatedly.  Depicting men, like Aikue, who want to be models but are not familiar, corn-fed Americans, confronts a complicated history of Othering in the United States while celebrating unconventional visions of masculinity and sexuality. 

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Pu’u O Mahuka (Hill of Escape) is the site of a sacred heiau (religious temple) constructed in the 1600’s. This location was Oahu’s other ancient birth spot for the wives of the ruling chiefs and was also the place of human sacrifices through the late 18th century. Following the abolition of traditional religion in 1819, the grounds of Pu’u O Mahuka were used for agriculture including pineapple farming, which brought laborers to Hawaii from around the globe.  In 1962, the site was declared a National Historic Landmark and became a state park.  Today, this land remains one of the islands’ most sacred spots but is also a tourist destination and a hideout for people who want to drink, get high, and have sex.  Hill of Escape -- both in name and history -- engenders multiple possibilities, which mirror the diverse group of models depicted in the larger series.

 September 12 – November 2, 2013
 Artist’s Talk: Saturday, October 5th, 3:00 PM

Daniel Cooney Fine Art
508 - 526 West 26th Street, 9C
New York, NY 10001

1 comment:


always such a pleasure to visit here - and browse among these magnificent images!