Julia Cooke speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Past and Future on Rapa Nui,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Julia talks about her trip to Rapa Nui, commonly known as Easter Island, a place famous for the mysterious moai statues that dot the remote landscape. She also discusses the island’s complicated and unknowable history, her earlier work as a journalist, and her latest book, which chronicles stories from Pan Am stewardesses during the Jet Age.
Podcast: Julia Cooke on “Past and Future on Rapa Nui”
The morning was clear and the colors vivid: yellow brush, white ocean froth against cobalt sky. In front of me, dense gray volcanic stone appeared to consume the light. I stood in salty mist before an altar on the north coast of Rapa Nui, Easter Island. A single toppled moai lay in violent chunks on the ground. At 9:00 a.m. the sun still hovered tight at the horizon. Rapa Nui, which is part of Chile 2,300 miles away, is kept closer to mainland time than by geographical rights it should be. The sun rises gray and sticky at 8:30 in the morning, and sets late, too. This is not the only disorienting thing about Rapa Nui, but rather the most objective example.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, “Open Air, Relational Architecture”, 2012. Commissioned by the Association for Public Art, Philad
Twenty-four searchlights, all high-powered, were set on rooftops around Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway last September and October. They were programmed, however, to avoid shining their spotlights on any physical objects: no buildings, no naked windows, no trees. Instead, they glimmered straight up into the sky: twenty-four columns of light responding — here solid, there faint, twitching and beating and sweeping across the sky together, then separating — to the voices of Philadelphia residents.