another hawaii

The aim of ‘Another Hawaii’ is to document the area around the small town of Waimea in the North of the Big Island of Hawaii. Waimea is situated at an altitude of around 3000 ft and the surrounding countryside is hilly grassland formed by the almost extinct volcano Kohala. It is very different from the cliché image of Hawaii as a place of sun drenched beaches, surfing and palm trees.

The work is a series of landscape and urban scenes. The tone is deliberately dark and the images low key to emphasise how different the place is from stereotypical representations. Most of the photographs were made during twilight and/or at times when weather conditions were interesting. Low clouds, stormy weather and raking light are everyday occurrences in Waimea.

The emphasis on light and the weather recalls Joel Meyerowitz’s ‘Cape Light’, which is one of my favourite landscape photography books. The photographs of urban Waimea also owe something to Stephen Shore’s classic work ‘Uncommon Places’ with their representation of vernacular street scenes.  The dark suburban scenes  have an eerie edgy feeling about them similar to the houses in Todd Hido’s ‘House Hunting’. Photographs of an ordinary place such as a suburban house can take on an air of mystery and intrigue when pictured at night.

I was driven to show another side of Hawaii as most people have an image of the place formed by its represent ion in popular culture – Elvis in ‘Blue Hawaii’, Hula Girls and Surfers. The real Hawaii has some of these elements but it is also a place where people live their everyday lives. I think there may be a link here to Baudrillard’s Simulacra. Hawaii is understood by most people as an imaginary place defined by idealised and constructed images. Images seen in the movies, on TV and in travel brochures, posters and such like. My stance is to show that Hawaii has many other facets. It has natural beauty other than beaches and palm trees. It is a place where ordinary people live and work. It has industry, commerce and agriculture – I have not covered all of these elements in my work so far. By showing this other side of the place my intention is both to document the place and to ask questions about the ease with which we accept the constructed imagery of popular culture.

‘Another Hawaii’ is a relatively small body of work with the photographs being made during three trips to Hawaii between 2013 and 2014. The photographs are in colour and were shot with a digital camera.

The images are presented as a series of 24 x16 inch prints

Keith Greenough, December 2013

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