[ART]iculations: Aloha Friday

One photographer’s quest to capture friends, dance parties, and above all, Aloha.


Photos from Gillian’s soon-to-be-released Aloha Friday #3
Photos of photos. Grady Gillan’s zine project, Aloha Friday.

In Hawai‘i, the term “Aloha Friday” is a tossed around like loose change. When Grady Gillan first moved to Honolulu five years ago from Tucson, Arizona, he recalls being confronted with the term and thinking it was in reference to a substantial state holiday or its equivalent. Imagine his reaction when he found out that Aloha Friday took place every Friday here. As an appropriation of that amicable, “just because” spirit, Aloha Friday is now also the name of Gillan’s zine project documenting the goings-on of Honolulu. Roughly 36 pages in length (front to back), each issue of Aloha Friday is packed with poignant capturings of faces and places, both familiar and foreign; a testament to our eternal desire to preserve all that is fleeting.

“It’s really interesting that here in Hawai‘i people feel the need to document everything,” observes Gillan. “Having your picture taken has become such an integral part of going out.” I find myself nodding to this statement in agreement, which at first seems a bit of a criticism. However I sense that we both harbor a secret liking to this social peculiarity. Flipping through those pages containing grainy black-and-white simulacra, it’s easy to be overcome with a strange sort of sentimentality. The photographs therein are mimetic stills lifted from quotidian corporeality: the detritus of our yesterday, the collective “last night,” our zeitgeist.

All of which gets me thinking – perhaps the subjects of these pictures aren’t the only way Gillan gets us all nostalgic. Gillan tells me that he draws influence from images from the ’60s, mid to late ’90s, and Studio54. Clearly a sucker for vintage-era nostalgia, he’s unknowingly resurrecting an entire subculture in the use of his chosen medium. Zines (essentially small-scale, self-made periodicals) are often thought to have been creations realized in the early ’80s with the rise of punk and anarchism. During that time, the ideology fueling the zine dream was that they function primarily as a means to communicate unbiased, non-corporate, unpolitically charged information to a targeted audience. These niche crowds also found zines appealing because they were DIY. This makes perfect sense. Dig back a little further and you’ll discover that its true roots lie in schools of art such as Dada and Fluxus and in political movements such as Situationism. Dada (fervent in and around the 1920s) represented rebellion in the form of subversion and absurdity. As a result, zines presented themselves as the perfect outlets to subvert the established form of the periodical, the magazine.

Aloha Friday issues one and two were released to great acclaim; issue one was selected to be sold in Jeff Staple’s pop-up bookstore at the Waikiki Parc Hotel and both issues were acquired by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa for their Hawaiian Library’s permanent collection. Production for the second set of zines is already underway and slated for release at the end of the year. As a way of reviving the DIY spirit of decades past, Gillan is extending the opportunity to you, (yes, you) to become crystallized in this little piece of printed history. Up until September 1, you’ll be able to contribute to Aloha Friday’s Kickstarter, a funding platform for independent creative projects. In return, your name will be forever outfitted within its pages. It’s fitting that like the events and subjects Gillan captures within Aloha Friday’s pages, this opportunity is evanescent. “All good things must come to an end,” the great English poet Geoffrey Chaucer once uttered, but therein lies the beauty.

Find out more about Aloha Friday and Grady Gillan’s photography at www.gradygillan.com
To contribute to the Kickstarter project or to place a pre-order, please visit Aloha Friday Issue 3’s Kickstarter page

ARTiculations is a blog on culture and the arts by Carolyn Mirante for Flux Hawaii. Carolyn is a Honolulu-based art critic and Owner/Director of the Gallery of Hawaii Artists (GoHA), an alternative exhibition space dedicated to the contemporary arts in Hawai’i.

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