'Aku Tikis' and the Authentic Original

This project explores the appropriation of the form of the Moai into Tiki-culture, beginning in mid-century America. The Moai of Easter Island are drenched in mystery and have been subject to great speculation since outsiders first witnessed them. Stoic and grave in their expression and monumental in their scale they continue to impress and perplex in equal measure. The appearance of the Moai was adopted by Tiki as a pre-loaded signifier of exotic and primitive notions. The form has been replicated morphed, caricatured, and texturised to create all manner objects, from columns to cappuccino-machines, from fire places to cigarette-cases and of course the ubiquitous cocktail mug. The Moai are often portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as an embodiment of societal decline. As the faux-Polynesian decadence of Tiki-culture fell out of fashion these kitsch appropriations also fell into ruin, becoming uncomfortable artefacts of a strange past.


Charles Rickleton