Monday, April 6, 2009



While we're on the subject of appropriation, here are some pictures I took this weekend when we finally paid a visit to Doris Duke's Honolulu estate, which she called Shangri-la, after the fantasy Himalayan valley from the movie "Lost Horizon." It's an extraordinarily odd place, though beautiful in many ways, with a strange mixture of authentic Islamic art and strange kitschy Orientalism. It's kind of the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum of Honolulu, to be honest, with spectacular ocean views of Diamond Head.


It's definitely worth a visit, though the tour guides spend a lot of energy in praise of Doris Duke the person - I suppose that there are people who come to the house because they want to see where she lived, rather than because they want to see the collection. I felt a bit badly for our tour guide, who obviously felt challenged by a tour that was made up of Muslim students from the university (plus us - and in the spirit of ecumenism, we were very grateful that the student organizers kindly set their tour for Saturday afternoon instead of Saturday morning to accommodate a couple of Jews who wanted to go to services in the morning).


Rather a peculiar place all round, but undeniably lovely, despite the oddity of some of the uses to which she put her collection.

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