Lani Asunción, Big Luau Give Back Aloha | Photo by Sasha Pedro

Lani Asunción: Duty-Free Paradise

Opening Reception

Friday, January 26 | 6–9pm

BCA Mills Gallery, 551 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116

Join us for the opening reception of two exhibitions from 6-9pm in the Mills Gallery: Lani Asunción: Duty-Free Paradise, curated by J.R. Uretsky, and, in the Project Room, Robert Rovenolt: (no regrets). Concurrently, next door from 5:30–8pm, there’s an open house in the Artist Studios Building holding our BCA Studio Residency.


Public Performance: March 16, 2024 | 4–7pm

BCA Mills Gallery, 551 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116

Site-specific performance by Lani Asunción in her exhibition Duty-Free Paradise, curated by J.R. Uretsky on view at the Mills Gallery. Asunción will perform with their artworks in the gallery accompanied by interdisciplinary storyteller Shey ‘Rí Acu’ Rivera Ríos and artist Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez. These performances are part of these artists ongoing explorations on colonial memory, queer empowerment, and freedom.


Closing Reception & Two Artist Talks: April 13, 2024 | 3–6pm

BCA Mills Gallery, 551 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116

You’re invited to join us on Saturday, April 13th for the closing receptions of our current Mills Gallery exhibitions. From 3-4 pm, curator J.R. Uretsky and artist Lani Asunción will have a conversation about their exhibition Duty-Free Paradise. From 5-5:30 pm, artists Robert Rovenolt and Nathan Heilman will discuss Rovenolt’s current Project Room Show, Robert Rovenolt: (no regrets).

About The Exhibition

Lani Asunción: Duty-Free Paradise | Curated by J.R. Uretsky

On view: January 20–April 13, 2024


Duty-Free Paradise (DFP) (2020-23) plays on the tensions between lived and imagined Hawai‘i. Through the lens of tourism, around which the Islands’ economy heavily circulates, this work explores the contradictions between perceptions and realities of island life as a paradise constructed through American pop culture, underwritten by militarism and biopolitics.

Asunción is creating connections between Hawai‘i and Boston’s past and current American histories and examining how these narratives are being told and communicated by reframing them through the digital media tools of video, augmented reality, installation, and public performances. Exploring how media can create an idealized perspective and turn the gaze on the viewer, the work provides a critical perspective of paradise as an idealized concept in relation to imperialism.

As a Filipinx-American who grew up in Hawai‘i, now living in Boston, Asunción offers an exposition of Boston’s complicated history with Hawai‘i. Through honoring Kānaka Maoli culture and uplifting the Filipinx diaspora, they embody characters that critique colonialism and imperialism with a compelling sense of ritualistic care.

Duty-Free Paradise is a project initiated in 2020, but that began to develop in 2011 during their graduate studies at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut, where the foundation and development of this work was witnessed by artist and curator J.R. Uretsky who has a deep personal understanding and relationship both to the artist and Hawai‘i histories.


This project was supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

Opening reception supported in part by Culture Pop.