Photographer Alison Beste displays new works at the 61st Artists of Hawai‘i exhibition.
For photographer Alison Beste, organic landscapes collide with a manufactured paradise as part of Oil Tanker Sunsets, a series of picturesque beach images portraying approaching tankers as stand-ins for the sun. “It started when I took a long-exposure photo on Kaimana Beach at twilight, and I caught a commercial tanker in the background that burned bright enough to light up the photo,” Beste recalls. “Before looking closely, it looked like the ubiquitous and iconic image seen in travel media depicting Hawai‘i.”
The series explores Beste’s fascination with the commercialization of Hawai‘i; the untapped natural beauty that these islands are known for versus the amount of manufactured development needed to accommodate and sustain the current and future populations of people who live here. “If anything serious happened tomorrow, how could we survive?” Beste wonders out loud. “On one hand, there’s an incredible power that comes with being able to transport vast amounts of material to a series of islands the middle of the Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, more than a million Hawai’i residents rely on resources brought in from tankers such as these.”
Beste’s critical work attracted the attentions of Honolulu Museum of Art, which selected her oil tanker photographs to be displayed in its Artists of Hawai‘i 2015 series. Beste is among one of just seven artists and one artist collective selected for the 61st biennial exhibition.
“When I had a gallery of these photos for my Master’s thesis exhibition in Boston, I put some of these photos on postcards as takeaways. How art, like paradise, can be commodified. But that’s a whole other issue,” Beste laughs.
View Beste’s work, along with works by Elisa Chang, Jesse Houlding, Akira Iha, Emily McIlroy, Lauren Trangmar, Maile Yawata, and .5ppi at Artists of Hawai‘i 2015, on display at the Honolulu Museum of art July 2 through October 25. For more information, visithonolulumuseum.org