Gallery > Assemblage

Cargo Cult The Natives waits for John Frum
We Had a Late Plane
Assemblage Mixed Media
27 x 28 x 1
1998

This piece holds symbolisms that represent the Cargo Cult religion practiced more than 75 years ago. During that time the residents of Papua, Yaliwan, Vanuatu and other places in Melanesia noticed that when the colonial occupiers built wharves and airstrips, the wharves and airstrips were soon visited by ships and airplanes which delivered cargos of goods.

Aboriginal religions grew up in the South Pacific after World War II when supplies were left behind. The practices of these cults centered on building elaborate mock-ups of airplanes and military style landing strips in the hope of bringing the return of the god-like airplanes that brought such marvelous cargo during the war.

The name “John Frum” is possibly derived from World War II GIs introducing themselves to the locals as “John from America”. The Tannese made the connection between John Frum and Jesus Christ.

Attenborough: “But Sam, it is nineteen years since John say that the cargo will come. He promise and he promise, but still the cargo does not come. Isn’t nineteen years a long time to wait?’ Sam lifted his eyes from the ground and looked at me. ‘If you can wait two thousand years for Jesus Christ to came an’ ’e no come, then I can wait more than nineteen years for John’
Excerpted from, Cargo Cult, Strange Stories of Desire from Melanesia and Beyond by Lamont Lindstrom. University of Hawaii Press.

Vailala Madness is represented in the eyes looking to the heavens. As the natives look to the sky for airplanes bringing promise of cargo, we in the western world look to the shopping malls and now to our computers for cargo. Can you see the cargo in you?

Lyrics from an American rock band, Cargo Cult, Strange Men Bearing Gifts.