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  • Writer's pictureKiana Rivera

Pasifika Transmissions: Between Womxn

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

September was a wild and fun ride! I was chosen for this mini one-month residency at the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM) of Long Beach. Huge shout out to my dear friend Micki Davis, Project Manager of Pasifika Transmissions, and Aunty Fran Lujan, Director/Curator of PIEAM! Being with these mana wahine in the PIEAM space was like going home to family, which is a big deal for me during the Covid era in California.

Relationship building is a foundation of indigenous practice. My Pasifika Transmission was no exception. Perhaps the relationship between myself, land, space, people took place at birth. Perhaps it's a never-ending circle where we go in and out of consciousness and awareness of a greater relationship with time. In this time-space and during my Transmission, the dilukai reminded me of the beauty and complexity of female relationships. It's a reminder of creation out of the womb and that darkness is full of life.

I automatically questioned myself when I was approached to do Pasifika Transmissions. Questions like “There are so many talented, more well-qualified artists, what makes me worthy of this kind of project?” “What if I create something that’s not good enough?” “What am I going to create??” rose to the surface of my consciousness. When all that noise settled, only then did I feel honored, special, humbled, and very, very grateful. Why do we question ourselves when good things come to us? That's a question of self-worth and combating that with radical self-love was a huge lesson in this experience.

There’s an ʻōlelo noʻeau: nānā ka maka, hoʻolohe ka pepeiao, paʻa ka waha, hana ka lima; look with the eyes, listen with the ears, shut the mouth, work with the hands. For me, this ʻōlelo noʻeau calls for active listening, active receiving. There’s a lot of intuitive listening that goes into my process and that started with a physical cleansing and detox that lasted 10 days. I also added reiki by Soultree. The reiki took place on the beach as the sunset and the full moon rose. That was really incredible and sacred and set a foundation for receiving. Taking time to perform sacred self-care is key to making space for the transmission. I tried to keep my own emotions in check to also make space for the Transmission. When emotions did come to the surface during my process, it felt like they were done in direct relation to working with the dilukai like she wanted me to feel and process the death of my grandmother or the loss of a particular lover. That’s when tears would flow.

The first transmission came like an eruption. I felt it at my core. Her paint was peeling, large cracks down her torso revealed several attempts at filling her spaces with putty. She wanted it off. The wood beneath the paint screamed for attention, longed for touch. A restoration. Was I allowed to do this? This is a museum after all and I am just an artist--a theatre artist at that! My only experience working with wood was during a year-long kapa making class where we had to make our own tools. Prior to that my experience was with trees-- planting, growing, digging them out. It took me a while to work up the courage to tell Aunty Fran. Surprisingly Aunty Fran responded with something like, "Well, if that's what she's trying to tell you, I hope you're ready for it because that's a big job." Support is such a strange response when you least expect it.

My relationship with the dilukai is like a relationship with a new lover. It's intense at first, she takes up all your emotional/psychological space, other people or outside elements come between you and sometimes you just need a break. It's an investment and you're searching for the dividends, as Aunty Fran likes to say. In the relationship process, you also grow to know your worth. You see yourself through her eyes. You learn to see the world through her eyes all while you're both being seen by witnesses- by curious passersby, by the cameras surveilling your every move, by the ancestors inside and outside the space, by the land itself. We are never alone. There are always witnesses. That idea of being fully seen expands the planes of existence. It’s a reverent seeing, which is where love exists. How does being seen like this change the way we move through the world?

(Video/editing by Micki Davis)

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