Inaugural exhibition presents Honolulu as a global platform for contemporary art
The Honolulu Biennial Foundation launches Hawai‘i’s first-ever entry into the international biennial circuit this year. Titled Middle of Now | Here, the inaugural Honolulu Biennial challenges the notion that Hawai‘i lies in the “middle of nowhere” and examines the lasting impact of place on individual and communal identities. “Where we live shapes who we are,” says Curatorial Director Fumio Nanjo and Curator Ngahiraka Mason in a joint statement about the guiding vision for the biennial. “The Honolulu Biennial recognizes place-based creativity as living and continuous and seeks to shine a light on the incredible variation and complexity of art created by artists from this part of the world.”
The biennial event presents Honolulu as a major cultural hub where art and ideas converge, exploring the diverse perspectives of artists throughout the Pacific on subjects ranging from the impact of colonization and Westernization to the myriad environmental issues faced by local and global communities. The goal? Increase awareness of Honolulu’s cultural and artistic contributions among a broader international audience and emphasize Hawai‘i’s vital role as a bridge between East and West.
The exhibition will feature leading, midcareer and emerging artists from Hawai‘i, the Pacific Islands, Asia, North America, Australia and New Zealand, including the work of Japanese luminary Yayoi Kusama, whose sculptural installation, Footprints of Life, debuted at Ward Village last spring as a preview to the event in March.
The Honolulu Biennial runs March 8 to May 8 with more than 20 art installations on view throughout Ward Village. The installations will be accompanied by free public programs that encourage cross-cultural dialogue, showcase the thriving cultural scene of the Pacific and expand understanding of contemporary art from the region. Programming will include panel discussions, film screenings and family-friendly workshops at various sites in Downtown Honolulu.