A Small Area of Land
(Kaka‘ako Earth Room)

Interior Earth Sculpture
Solo Exhibition
ii Gallery (Pu‘uhonua Society)
O'ahu, Hawai'i
March 23 - April 27 2013

Curator: Trisha Lagaso Goldberg
Material: volcanic soil, coral sand, water
Dimensions: 9'-0" L x 4'-0" W x 7’-8” H
Weight: 32,000 lbs.

Whoever controls the land, controls the future of Hawai‘i. “A small area of land” is the definition for the term "kuleana," as translated in the Dictionary of Hawaiian Legal Land Terms. Coupled with increasingly contentious perspectives on the future use, development and management of Hawai‘i’s land and natural resources, A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room) uses two of Hawai‘i’s most politically charged materials and highly valued commodities (soil and sand) to comment on the current state of its environmental decline. By focusing our attention on such a monumental expression of this most essential and crucial issue, A Small Area of Land seeks to help us focus and redress our thinking and practices; the end goal being the production of a healthy and self-sustainable future Hawai‘i.


In 2013, an island specific interior earth sculpture made of dirt, sand, and water installed in an art gallery on the sidewalk level of Auhahi Street amid urban revitalization created an event for passersby to contemplate a question about land and how relationships with land affect the futures of development. The sculpture occupied a small area of land approximately 9’-0” L x 4’-0” W x 7’-0” H. The cross-section of the sculpture turns the horizontal ground into a vertical position creating a monolith at eye level. 32,000 lbs of volcanic soil from the Ko‘olau Range (⅔ oxisol) and the Wai‘anae Range  (+ ⅓ vertisol) was harvested from mountain to sea, then hand-sifted and mixed with industrial coral-sand and municipal water as it was rampacked into a wooden geometric formwork built for concrete.

The simple rectangular form of the sculpture is given a site specific geometry informed by the altitude of the moon at its location in the sky at the time of sunrise based on celestial calculations timetraveling to the day in history when land in Hawai‘i was privatized through constitutional legislation of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government titled the Kuleana Act, on August 6, 1850. The word Kuleana as a legal term is defined as “a small area of land.”

Over time A Small Area of Land erodes into partial ruin. The second half of the sculpture title Kaka‘ako Earth Room is an acknowledgement to Earth Room, an installation of Walter de Maria. However, while Kaka‘ako Earth Room is positioned after De Maria, the sculpture is subject to a explore the process of critical regional reappropriation. Since the surface of dirt is easily anticipated by viewers in Hawai‘i since earth is seen everyday, the construction of A Small Area of Land is offset from the wall by distances for walking and gathering at either side of the gallery. This decision builds from an aspect of De Maria’s Earth Room that involves the interiorization of a material as crucial as soil. Kaka‘ako Earth Room takes interiorized earth and crafts it into an object. Initially it was thought of as an indoor landform furniture. Then the driving factor of the project arrived. The horizontal slab of dirt is turned up  to stand with an agency of its own and reveal its posture and bands of variation.


Sean Connelly; Trisha Lagaso Goldberg; David Goldberg; Jason Ortiz; Ihilani Phillips; Spencer Agoston; Brian Linares; Bryce Renninger; Leah Caldera; Marika Emi; Ian Eichelberger; Beau Bassett; Jaimey Hamilton Faris; Jason R. Farris; Shereen Kanehisa; Jeff Au Hoy; Shirley Lam; Hadley Nunes; Dana Paresa; Maya Portner; Jerome Tabar; Danielle Ulmann; Alex Adler; Malia Lagaso; AJ Feducia; Ara Laylo; Lina Brown; Skylar Brown; Ginger Gohier; Meagan Suzuki; Lara Matsumoto; Martha Cheng; Kim Moa; Lesa Griffith.

Sources and Delivery of Soil: Sam Hadar and Kamea Hadar; Justin Franzmeier and Brian Boltz; Rick

Barboza and Alex Connelly; Kamuela Enos and Miwa Tamanaha; Tim Connelly; Beau Bassett and Hi‘ilei Kawelo.

Additional Support: Blaine Tolentino, Leah Caldera, Jeff Gress, Vincent Ricafort, Chris Lee, Jen Wilbur, Charlie Reppun, Vivien Reppun, Lisa Yamada, Marissa Abadir, Shereen Kanehisa; Earl Kawa‘a; Iggy So; Min Chen; Alan Kwan; Wei Fang; John Prime; Sarah Honda; Sean Shodal; Eric Cordeiro; Stacy Hoshino; Aaron Padilla.

Organizational Support: LIMB; 808 Urban; Paiko; Hui Ku Maoli Ola; R/D; Pu‘uhonua Society; Lana Lane; Studios; Pow Wow; Island Foodscaping; Wailupe Farms; Mahoa.


Pacific Arts Journal, 2020








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