Going on view in the Arts of Hawai‘i Gallery this week is Darius Homayounpour’s installation Rift. He’s been in there the past week installing it, with the help of a rotating shift of friends and our installation crew. Two people unrolled tubes of aluminum foil and cut them into pieces, which Darius then crinkled and impaled on almost-five-foot-high spindles. He estimates he used 3,066 squares of foil. This light, malleable material, when stacked, creates an imposing mass in the center of the gallery, the blood-red walls reflecting on the glittering squares.

Known for his textile art, Darius, who until 2010 worked at the museum as assistant to textile curator Sara Oka, continues to teach shibori and indigo dyeing classes at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, and freelances as a technician in textile conservation. He also makes paper, and loves what happens when sheaves are stacked. He swapped paper for this lightest of metals for Rift, which actually is a resurrection of sorts. We asked Darius a few questions about the installation.

'Rift' by Darius Homayounpour

‘Rift’ by Darius Homayounpour

What is Rift about?
I’m also a paper maker so I did a lot of pieces with layers of handmade paper, and I was always interested in that surface that layers of paper created. However, layers of paper don’t have much air between them—they get very flat. This is a translation of that layering into metallic form. Aluminum foil is readily available, you don’t have to cast it like bronze, and it is easily transformed. It traps air in a way that way paper doesn’t.

How did you conceive the project?
I actually did it in the late 1990s when I was in graduate school, at the University of Hawai‘i Commons Gallery, and Jay [curator of contemporary art James Jensen] happened to see it. And you know Jay—he doesn’t forget anything about a piece of art. He approached me about doing it again at the museum, and  I thought, why not? It would be a great opportunity to show it again. It’s ephemeral. The original piece was recycled and this one will be recycled.  Like lots of installation art, it’s not intended to be permanent.

Installation art for me is usually three dimensional, and it’s meant to transform a physical environment whether it is indoors or outdoors. So this enormous quantity—about 3,066 sheets—of crinkled foil occupies a large amount of volume. The walls are the warmest possible color, it’s a warm, hot red. The color and the space are meant to transform that enviroment and I’m hoping the visitor will encounter it and walk around it and just feel how that artwork transforms the env and transforms the viewer. How you feel differently in that space.

How does Rift make you feel in that space?
I really enjoy the reflection, you have regular spotlights that reflect off the red walls and the red light reflects off the aluminum foil. I’m really enjoying that, it’s different on every side. It’s really a lot about light.

Technically how did you build it?
The first time I did it I was tearing one piece of foil at a time, and a friend who was an engineer said, “No no no,” and he devised a process of tearing the sheets of foil seven pieces at a time. This time we’re using spindles to stabilize the stacks, so you need to find the center of the foil. I need to be the one to actually put the foil on the spindle. On the weekend we had six people working.

In addition to Daru Nakane, Paul Caleb, and Drew Broderick from our Installation team, you seem to have a lot of friends helping you out.
Yes, Fay Yamaguchi, Linda Gue, Dick and Jan Mills, Timothy Ojile, and Raina Grigg have been working with me in the gallery. They always get roped in when I have projects (laughs).

Lean on me: Raina Grigg and Timothy Ojile help Darius Homayounpour out.

Lean on me: Raina Grigg and artist Timothy Ojile help Darius Homayounpour out.

Does the title refer to anything other than the crevasses formed by the stacks of foil?
No, the name is a nudge to look at those spaces in between the stacks.


Rift is on view through August 3. The gallery space at the rear of the John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery of the Arts of Hawai‘i is dedicated to contemporary Hawai‘i-based artists. Following Darius Homayounpour’s Rift will be the installation Land Division by Sean Connelly.