An art installation that has been on display at the Hawaii Convention Center since 1996 has suddenly sparked controversy for cultural insensitivity.
The sculpture, entitled "Forgotten Inheritance," is comprised of what appears to be exposed human bones lying in sand. Created by artist Hans Ladislaus, the piece is actually made from clay and concrete. Nonetheless, it was recently removed from view and covered with a black curtain after the Hawaii Tourism Authority received complaints about the blatant exposure of ancestral bones.
According to KITV, the artwork offended native Hawaiian descendent Paulette Ka'anohiokalani Kaleikini in particular, who requested the work be hidden and eventually removed. "I don't know what the motive of the artist was with respect to what was depicted," explained Moses Haia, who represents Kaleikini, to Hawaii News Now.
"I certainly know that in Hawai'i and given our cultural practices -- when it comes to malama iwi, which is taking care of our ancestral bones, that it's a significant sign of disrespect."
State Arts Foundation officials are attempting to arrange a meeting with Ladislaus, Convention Center officials, Native Hawaiian burial stakeholders and individuals offended by the artwork. In the meantime, the piece remains covered. Though it's a permanent installation, experts believe the piece can be relocated without doing damage to the work if it is indeed removed.
Do you think the work was offensive enough to merit its removal? Let us know your thoughts.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that the installation was made of human bones. The piece is made from clay and concrete. The above text has been clarified to reflect this.