Hapa-Palooza Festival: In Conversation with Hana Pesut

Posted by Kitty Ku & filed under Identity.


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Held annually in Vancouver, Hapa-Palooza Festival is Canada’s largest festival celebrating and raising awareness of mixed heritage and hybrid identity. Within a city that celebrates hybridity, acceptance, and ethnic-cool identities, Hapa-Palooza Festival embraces the usage of the word “Hapa”, of Hawaiian origins, as a broad term for people identifying as having mixed heritage. Hosted and organized by the Hybrid Ancestry Public Arts (HAPA) Society, which is a non-profit society dedicated to exploring and celebrating mixed ancestry and backgrounds, the Hapa-Palooza Festival features a wide range of mixed-heritage artists showcasing their work within the mediums of film, music, visual and literary arts.

One of the many talented artists in this year’s festival is Hana Pesut, the lead artist for the Hyphen Art Exhibit, which features her series of photography called Switcheroo. Kitty Ku had a chance to connect with Hana and ask a few questions about her most recent project and about her mixed, cultural identity:

Kitty Ku: How would you describe your work? What is it about?

Hana Pesut: Switcheroo was an idea that I had while I was camping with some friends and two of them were dressed very different from each other. One was wearing leopard print leggings, a tie dye shirt, a gold embroidered coat and everything was very bright and colourful whereas the other was wearing black jeans and a black t-shirt so I thought it would be fun if they traded outfits and I took before and after photos. When I first started taking these photos I just thought it would be a fun and unique way of shooting portraits, but then at the same time I found it raised a lot of questions about gender and identity. I’ve really enjoyed leaving this project open to the viewer’s interpretation and hearing how they perceive it rather than encouraging everyone to see it from my view.

KK: How would you describe your artistic or creative vision in your photography?

HP: It’s constantly changing and I’m still learning a lot so I always try to stay open to suggestions and ideas. With Switcheroo specifically I would still love to travel and shoot more in new locations and with different cultures.

KK: Where do you draw your inspiration?

HP: I find a lot of my inspiration comes from locations, mostly outdoor landscapes. When I find an inspiring location, I can’t stop shooting.

KK: How would you describe your cultural blend?

HP: I’m half Japanese but my dad grew up in America so he never spoke Japanese or was really that interested in the culture other than the food. Plus, I grew up in a small town with not many Japanese or mixed people around so naturally it was hard for me when I was a kid to have a lot of interest in my Japanese side. However, as I’ve gotten older and learned more about my family, met other half Japanese people, and traveled to Japan several times, I’ve become much more interested in learning more.

KK: When do you feel the most one or the other, or most blended?

HP: It’s kind of weird I guess, but being in Japan really made me feel more Japanese and way less Japanese at the same time, does that make sense?

(In response to Hana’s question, yes, that does make sense to us at Schema!)

Hana Pesut‘s photography will be featured in the Hyphen Art Exhibit, which runs from Sept 23-27, 2014 at thisopenspace, 230 East Pender Street, Free Event


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