Zener Schon Gallery

Kevin Kunishi Philippines, South East Asia - Oakland, CA

Between 2011 and 2015, Kevin Kunishi returned to Hawaii to explore his family and cultural roots and produced, Imi Haku. The landscape of these works, at first only vaguely familiar, has, through this project, become a map of Kunishi’s own history, both imagined and inherited. Once a sovereign nation, unilaterally annexed by the United States in 1898, Hawaii still bears the markings of Western imperialism and its complex collective identities are often hidden from view. Yet, just beneath the surface, the physical features, social constructs, and the emotional milieu of the islands and its peoples are palpable. Kunishi’s photographs work as a collection of cues and markers, navigating these fabricated realities and landscapes to produce a poignant study on the ambiguity of post-colonial identity.

“Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.” – Thoreau

Artist Statement

Between 2011 and 2015, I returned to the land of my ancestors to explore my familial and cultural roots. The Hawaiian landscape, at first only vaguely familiar, has become a map of my own history, both imagined and inherited.

Once a sovereign nation, unilaterally annexed by the United States in 1898 in what many consider to be an illegal act, Hawaii still bears the deep markings of Western imperialism.

Hawaii’s complex collective identity is hidden from view, yet becomes palpable as one looks through the eyes of history, and the lens of cultural assimilation and appropriation.

The resulting photographs, a collection of cues and markers, navigate the fabricated realities of the landscape. Just barely beneath the surface, the complexity manifests in physical features, social constructs, and the emotional milieu of the islands and its people.

Kunishi_0013 PahoaKunishi_0066 Looking WestKunishi_0897 Aiea_Oahu_lowresKunishi_0067 Kalapana_HawaiiKunishi_0077 Hilo_HawaiiKunishi_0044 Waikiki_OahuKunishi_0232 Kaunakakai_Molokai_lowresKunishi_0187 Nanakuli_Oahu_lowresKunishi_0652 Waimea Bay_Oahu_lowresKunishi_0376 Waikiki_Oahu_lowres
  • Kunishi_0013 Pahoa

    #0013 Pahoa, Hawaii, 2012 

    40” x 30” , Edition of 3Photography, Archival Pigment Print

  • Kunishi_0066 Looking West

    #0066 Looking West, Tantalus, Oahu, 2013

    20” x 16”, Edition of 5Photography, Archival Pigment Print

  • Kunishi_0897 Aiea_Oahu_lowres

    #0897 Aiea, Oahu, 2015

    20” x 16”, Edition of 5Photography, Archival Pigment Print

  • Kunishi_0067 Kalapana_Hawaii

    #0067 Kalapana, Hawaii, 2013

    20” x 16”, Edition of 5Photography, Archival Pigment Print

  • Kunishi_0077 Hilo_Hawaii

    #0077 Hilo, Hawaii 2012

    20” x 16”, Edition of 5Photography, Archival Pigment Print

  • Kunishi_0044 Waikiki_Oahu

    #0044 Waikiki, Oahu 2013

    20” x 16”, Edition of 5Photography, Archival Pigment Print

  • Kunishi_0232 Kaunakakai_Molokai_lowres

    #0232 Kaunakakai, Molokai, 2014

    20” x 16”, Edition of 5Photography, Archival Pigment Print

  • Kunishi_0187 Nanakuli_Oahu_lowres

    #0187 Nanakuli, Oahu 2015

    20” x 16”, Edition of 5Photography, Archival Pigment Print

  • Kunishi_0652 Waimea Bay_Oahu_lowres

    #0652 Waikiki, Oahu 2012

    20” x 16”, Edition of 5Photography, Archival Pigment Print

  • Kunishi_0376 Waikiki_Oahu_lowres

    #0376 Waimea Bay, Oahu 2015

    20” x 16”, Edition of 5Photography, Archival Pigment Print