Schaefer Gallery Presents ‘The Rat & The Octopus’
The Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Schaefer International Gallery presents its newest exhibit, The Rat & The Octopus, through August 4.
In connection with The Rat & The Octopus exhibit, there will be an ArT=Mixx event Saturday, June 11.
The exhibit showcases the talents of The AGGROculture Collective—artists Sally Lundburg, Keith Tallett, Scott Yoell and Margo Ray, two husband-and-wife teams based on Hawai‘i Island.
Their exhibition explores the Polynesian myth about a rat who was adrift at sea and made a deal with an octopus to be carried safely to shore. In return, it promised the octopus a reward, but instead tricked the octopus and ran away.
The artists have adapted The Rat and The Octopus into a modern context, set in an unspecified Pacific island locale where they personify the rat as a corporate and duplicitous businessman/land speculator and the octopus as a union foreman/construction worker. The characters are seen in a variety of settings and situations, reenacting the myth through themes of corporate colonialism and deal making.
The collective has developed individual and collaborative work combining video projections, ink drawings, hand-cut stencil mapping, cast resin sculpture and photography.
The most impressive part of the group’s efforts is seen through the collaboration of 12 separate videos that are installed on a fabricated faux atoll. The work—incorporating actors, set locations, video cameras and drones, is expertly edited by Lundburg, to segue among multiple, contemporary scenarios of the rat and the octopus.
In every version of the tale, the octopus continues to be angry with the rat, and fisherman to this day play on this anger by using a rat-like lure, or maka feke, to tempt and catch the octopus.
Metaphorically and literally, lures and bait are something that appeals and entices, but could also trap, as suggested in I Was Lured To My Own Demis, a collaborative video and sculpture installation by Yoell and Lundburg.
101 Kept Promises and Broken Agreements by Margo Ray presents a visual interpretation of the myth using contemporary local and global examples, using mixed media collage on mylar.
These intricate detailed works require visual attention to understand the layers of political satire and the artifice of deal breaking.
The Tesselation Series by Tallett and Lundburg references natural and unnatural geographical zones, animal and human activities and habitats. The geometric shapes and forms are impeccably crafted on wood panels using inkjet prints on habotai silk, enamel paint, powdered pigment and epoxy resin.
A series of large-scale ink drawings with collage on paper by Yoell are stream-of-consciousness “story boards” that incorporate the lime green pattern of the rat character’s suit that he wears in the video and photo collaborative work.
The compositions of these works continues the thread of the myth with a calming presentation of good old-fashioned flat drawings.
Collectively, this talented group has been on the forefront of the contemporary art scene in Hawai‘i with extensive exhibition histories, awards and progressive public projects. Their project was selected through an open community proposal period in 2012.
The MACC exhibits program presents visual arts from the State of Hawai‘i and around the world, supporting artists in their exploration of new work that reflects important issues and ideas of our time.
The Rat & The Octopus offers a new perspective on the potential of group collaboration and storytelling today.
This exhibition is sponsored in part by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, County of Maui, Office of Economic Development.
The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and before Castle Theater shows and during intermission. The gallery will be closed July 29 and 30.
The ArT=Mixx event, “Modern Heroes,” features video mapping and visuals by Event Horizon, music by DJ Boomshot and LED Performance by SeaFire. The event runs 7 to 11 p.m. Admission for the 21-and-over event. A valid ID is required.