Huakaʻi through Mahina

David Copperfield’s misunderstanding of place through Native moon cycles

Kiana Lynn Macayan Anderson
spoken word, video, installations
indigenous epistemology moon phases textuality orality pacific southwest

“‘That’s wind, sir. There’ll be mischief done at sea, I expect, before long.’ It was a murky confusion—here and there blotted with a colour like the colour of the smoke from damp fuel—of flying clouds, tossed up into most remarkable heaps...through which the wild moon seemed to plunge headlong, as if, in a dread disturbance of the laws of nature, she had lost her way and were frightened. There had been a wind all day; and it was rising then, with an extraordinary great sound... In the difficulty of hearing anything but wind and waves, and in the crowd, and the unspeakable confusion, and my first breathless efforts to stand against the weather, I was so confused that I looked out to sea for the wreck, and saw nothing but the foaming heads of the great waves..”

“Ua ho’i ka noio ‘au kai i uka, ke ‘ino nei ka moana: “When the noio bird returns from sea to land, the sea will be stormy.” (Pukui ‘Olelo No‘eau, No. 2787)

Indigenous epistemologies and wayfinding practices offer a map of navigation and survival to people who are in relation to the land. In contrast, with an inability to interpret the influences of the moon and environment to evade danger, David recounts his fear and confusion. This installation thus envisions an alternative understanding of the text that recognizes the importance of nature: allowing for a story with no shipwreck, where death might have been avoided, and where one’s relationship to land provides shelter rather than displacement.

Suspended together, we demonstrate the shore of written and oral traditions, informed by the novel and Hawaiian/O’odham ways of knowing. On the ground, O’odham and Hawaiian representations of moon phases overlap and merge together, forming both the foundation for the piece, and for indigenous knowledge. The 30 moon phases painted on mirrors also reside on the ground—to look then, is to also reflect back on to the self. We invite you to walk on/touch/interact with the space however you are drawn to do so. How do you choose to interact with the piece? And: what do you offer in return?

Daughter. Sister. Friend. Reader. Writer. Thinker. Kiana Anderson is a PhD student in English literature at the University of Arizona, with research interests in oral tradition, storytelling, decolonial theory, and land/place-based pedagogies rooted in the Pacific. Born and raised on Moku o Keawe, Hawai’i, her creative/critical work is tied to the ocean, land, and ancestors she carries with her.

"Huakaʻi through Mahina: David Copperfield’s misunderstanding of place through Native moon cycles " Kiana Lynn Macayan Anderson © 2022 Produced for Big Book Field Studio © 2022