A couple of months before the eruption of the Kilauea volcano it was raining in Puna. At the Saturday farmers’ market children pulled at their parents’ hands, asking for papayas or bananas, still wet from the downpour. In the bustle among the stalls, who was thinking of what was to come?
Within a few weeks we were mesmerized by images of fountains of glowing lava. Video shot by drones showed rivers of molten rock heading implacably toward the ocean. They've both provided us a visual language for understanding the destruction and awful price of the eruption. So many homes burned out and now under the lava flow. Hundreds of people displaced.
The people of Puna lived in a beautiful part of the Big Island, a district of many small farms. People grow papayas and mangos. Some produce in the stalls, like the taro, have local origins, while others, like Hawai’i’s giant avocados, came originally from the mainland. Orchids are sold in the stalls too, yet seem omnipresent throughout Puna's subtropical landscape.
The people here are very diverse. Many are poor - this is one of the least expensive places to live on the islands. Native Hawai’ians live beside African-Americans, immigrants from Asian countries across the Pacific, and white retirees from the mainland.
In the Maku'u farmers’ market every Saturday you can see them all. It’s not far from Pahoa and the edge of the eruption, just a few miles up highway 130. The market must be having some hard times now, though. Some of the farms have been overtaken by the lava. Who knows whether displaced people can afford to buy fruit at the stalls of those farmers still able to come and sell what they’re growing?
These images were taken a few months before the eruption started. They’re just a way of looking at who lives in Puna, a community living on the side of a volcano.
Los Angeles Times reviews In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte - clickhere "Documenting the Farm Worker Rebellion" "The Radical Resistance to Immigration Enforcement" Havens Center lectures, University of Wisconsin, click here
San Francisco Commonweallth Club presentation by David Bacon and Jose Padilla, clickhere Exhibition / Exhibicion In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte
Photographs and text panels by David Bacon documenting the lives of farm workers Fotografias y paneles de texto por David Bacon documentando las vidas de los que trabajan en el campo
Arbuckle Gallery / Pacific Hotel History Park of San Jose, 1650 Senter Rd., San Jose, CA 10/26/2017 - 6/3/2018, 11A-4.30P, Tues/Martes - Sun/Domingo
Video of the presentation at the opening of the exhibition, click here In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte Photographs and text by David Bacon University of California Press / Colegio de la Frontera Norte 302 photographs, 450pp, 9”x9” paperback, $34.95 order the book on the UC Press website: ucpress.edu/9780520296077 use source code 16M4197 at checkout, receive a 30% discount