BLOODLESS is a performance about the annexation of Hawai'i and what lead up to the overtaking of the Hawaiian monarchy during the Bloodless War, or also known as, Coup d'état of 1893, when Queen Lili'uokalani stepped down from power to allow the American sugar planters under Sanford Ballard Dole [currently known as Dole Food Company] who establish a new provincial government with Dole as president. The coup occurred with the foreknowledge of John L. Stevens, the U.S. minister to Hawaii, and 300 U.S. Marines from the U.S. cruiser Boston were called to Hawaii, allegedly to protect American lives.
In the performance the hibiscus plant is a proxy for the land of Hawai'i, the loss, the pain that Queen Lili'uokalani experience and the Colonial dominance from the Western powers that continue to affect the islands and those who live there. My father was born and raised on the pineapple plantation formally known as Kahuku Farms on O'ahu. As I uproot, dismantle, and beat the plant into my crotch; it is brutally torn apart and left bare and vulnerable.
This work was influenced by the diary entry of Queen “Lydia” Lili‘uokalani made to her people during the relinquishment of her power and the annexation of Hawai’i to the United States of
America January 17, 1893. She wrote the following:
“Auwe! kuu aloha i kuu Aina hanau ame kuu lahui aloha. Ka iwi o kuu iwi ke koko o kuu koko. Aloha! Aloha! Aloha!”
“Alas! My love for my homeland and my beloved people. The bones of my bones the blood of my blood. Aloha! Aloha! Aloha!”
The song played Aloha O'e during the performance is slowly deconstructed, each time it is repeated is gradually played out of tune. There is a jolting sense of something beautiful dying. This is one of the most famous songs associated with Hawai'i. The story of the origin of the song has several variations, and they all have in common that the song was inspired by a notable farewell embrace given by Colonel James Harbottle Boyd during a horseback trip taken by Princess Liliʻuokalani in 1878 to the Boyd ranch in Maunawili on the windward side of Oʻahu. I find similarities in her diary entry quote during the 1893 Coup. The song that came from love was later quoted through loss and pain, for her land and people.