T I K I   M A N I F E S T O


Tiki mug, tiki mug
My face, my mother’s face, my father’s face, my sister’s face
Tiki mug, tiki mug

White beachcombers in tiki bars drinking zombie cocktails from tiki mugs
The undead, the Tiki people, my mother’s face, my father’s face
The black brown and ugly that make customers feel white and beautiful

Tiki mugs, tiki ashtrays, tiki trashcans, tiki kitsch cultures
Tiki bars in Los Angeles, a tiki porn theatre, tiki stores
Tiki conventions, a white guy named Kukulelei singing in oogabooga fake Hawaiian
makes me yearn to hear a true Kanaka Maoli like Kaumakaiwa Kanaka'ole 
sing chant move his hands the antidote to tiki bar people 
who don't listen because tiki don’t speak any language 
do they

Tiki bars in L.A., in Tokyo, in the lands of Tiki, Honolulu, Pape’ete
Wherever tourists need a background of black skin brown skin ugly faces 
to feel land of the free expensive rich on vacation hard working 
with a background of wallpaper tiki lazy people wallpaper 
made from our skins our faces our ancestors our blood

and I’m here in Los Angeles or anywhere here 
in the so-called West which is everywhere 
and here, we are tiki mug people, my mother’s face, my father’s face
my face, my sister’s face

Can I remind us that Tiki
Whom we call Ti’eti’e and Ti'iti'i
Some call Ki’i, some call Ti’i

That Tiki was beautiful, jutting eyebrow, thick lips, wide nose
brown skin in some islands
black skin in some islands
brown black deep, thick thighs
jutting eyebrow, thick lips, wide nostrils, breathing

Lifting the sky over Samoa, lifting the sky over Tonga
lifting the sky over Viti, lifting the sky over Rapanui
lifting the sky over Tahiti, lifting the sky over Hawai’i
lifting the sky over Aotearoa, and looking to, paying respects 
to Papua, to the Chamorro, to Vanuatu, to Kiribati
lifting the ten heavens above Moana, not your Pacific, not your Disney, but 
our Moana

And now in tiki bars Chilean soldiers have drinks from tiki mugs after shooting 
down Rapanui protestors in Rapanui, not Easter Island, not Isla de Pascua
but Rapanui, whose entire population was kidnapped and sold in slavery 
to Chilean mines in the 19th century, and whose survivors are shot on the streets 
of their lands in Rapanui today

And American police drink maitais in Honolulu bars from tiki mugs while 
native Hawaiian people live homeless on the beaches

And Indonesian settlers drink from tiki mugs in West Papua where half a million 
Papuans have been killed seeking freedom after being sold down the river by 
President Kennedy so he could build some mines for his rich cultivated 
humanitarian friends

And French tourists drink from tiki mugs 
in Nouvelle Calédonie and Polynesie Française
while native people are…

Where? Where are we? 
In the wallpaper, on the mugs?

artist statement