Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Schaefer International Gallery presents:
The Rat & The Octopus
AGGROculture Collective: Sally Lundburg, Keith Tallett, Scott Yoell, and Margo Ray
June 5- Aug 4, 2016
By Neida Bangerter, Curator, and Gallery Director at Maui Arts & Cultural Center
Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Schaefer International Gallery presents its newest exhibit, The Rat & The Octopus, running now through August 4. The exhibit showcases the talents of The AGGROculture Collective that includes 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 corporate and duplicitous business man/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 which are installed on a fabricated faux atoll. The work- incorporating actors, set locations, video cameras, and drones, is expertly edited by Lundburg, to segue 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 you as suggested in I Was Lured To My Own Demise, a collaborative video and sculpture installation by all four members of the collective.
101 Kept Promises and Broken Agreements by Margo Ray presents a visual interpretation of the myth using contemporary local and global issues of broken agreements and kept promises, 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 Keith Tallett and Sally 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 Scott 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.
MACC gallery hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm. Also open before Castle Theater shows and during intermission. Gallery closed July 29 and 30.
In connection with The Rat & The Octopus exhibit, there will be an ArT=Mixx event Saturday, June 11. The event, titled “Modern Heroes” features video mapping and visuals by Event Horizon, music by DJ Boomshot and LED Performance by SeaFire. The event runs 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm and has free admission for those 21 and over (w/valid ID).