But unlearning paradise has a precedent in Chiu’s practice, as evidenced by “Paradise Now?: Contemporary Art From the Pacific,” the 2004 exhibition she curated at the Asia Society and Museum in New York. To rethink Hawai‘i beyond the prism of leisure intervenes on what scholar Edward Said described as the Western imagination of Asia-Pacific Oceania made possible by colonial histories. Paraphrasing her colleague Kahu‘āina Broderick, Chiu further reiterated that “we acknowledge those who are with us and those who have been practicing in other places in this show” across social and climate justice.
The intricacies of these histories are further affirmed through the artist selection, which includes , , Gaye Chan, and Momoyo Torimitsu, among others. Featuring both locally and globally established artists was a way to complicate how we typically view these artists and emphasize the influence of Asia-Pacific Oceanic territories’ culture on a global audience.
Chiu elaborated on this argument by pointing to Gates’s sculpture series of tarred vessels that he began in 2021, “Preservation Exercise.” These vessels see Gates work with Japanese ceramic traditions—infusing them with West African and Black American cultural and labor histories. Gates’s work is staged in the Japan gallery at the Honolulu Museum of Art. This staging not only affords audiences a different perspective of Gates’s practice that is underexamined by institutions and art historians, but also complicates his own practices of disrupting monolithic interpretations of Blackness and Japanese culture. The latter is both an exciting and necessary intervention to those representations.