Honolulu Biennial 2017: Middle of Now | Here

Dates and Venues:
A multi-sited exhibition
8 March – 8 May 2017
Curatorial Director: Fumio Nanjo
Curator: Ngahiraka Mason

Honolulu Biennial (HB17) debuted in 2017, featuring 33 artists from over a dozen countries and Hawai’i, and ran from 8 March – 8 May. HB2017 was curated by Fumio Nanjo, director of Mori Art Museum, and Ngahiraka Mason, former Indigenous Curator at Auckland Art Gallery | Toi o Tamaki. Complementing the multi-sited exhibition, was an offering of 65 different public programmes, including keiki art making workshops, lectures, performances, poetry readings, film screening, panel discussions and guided public tours.

The Honolulu Biennial was born out of the desire to make the artists of Hawai‘i part of global conversations on contemporary art, as well as to draw attention to cultural practitioners and the everyday lives of those connected to the Pacific Ocean.

Yuki Kihara
Nose Width with Vernier Caliper, 2015
From the series A Study of a Samoan Savage
c-print mounted on Dibond aluminum
80 x 100 x 0.4 cm
Image courtesy of Milford Galleries, Dunedin, and the artist

Lisa Reihana
Tai Whetuki – House of Death, Redux (still), 2016
two-channel ultra HD video, stereo sound
14:20 duration
Image courtesy of the artist

If one is going to establish a biennial, one learns to be open and unyielding. Since its inception in 2011, the idea to “do something” in order to elevate the presence of Native Hawaiian and Hawai‘i-based artists meant we had to properly institute and originate the Honolulu Biennial. With my cofounders Kóan Jeff Baysa and Katherine Ann Leilani Tuider, the Honolulu Biennial Foundation was formed in 2014 with the belief that not only does our home need the Honolulu Biennial, so does the art world.

“Locally resonant and globally relevant” for me defines the conceptual and aesthetic oeuvre of our contemporary artists and holistic art scene in Hawai‘i. There is much to be learned and valued from island-based worldviews. Artists from the islands have an attuned sensitivity to the interconnectedness of nature, history, economy, family, culture, and preservation, offering space for probing questions and possible solutions. Particularly resonant in much of the work by Native Hawaiian contemporary artists, and also by local artists, is the non-linear concept of time, moving forward by looking backwards with humility, grace, vision and most importantly, aloha.

– An excerpt from the essay Locally Resonant and Globally Relevant by Honolulu Biennial Foundation co-founder & director Isabella Ellaheh Hughes. To read the full text refer to the Resources section below.

Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan
Crossings: Project Another Country, 2017
used boats, domestic objects
dimensions vary
Installation view at Honolulu Biennial 2017
Image courtesy of Hawai‘i Contemporary. Photo: Christopher Rohrer

Drew Kahu‘āina Broderick
Billboard I (The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness), 2017
vinyl, neon
37 x 74 cm
Installation view, Honolulu Biennial 2017
Image courtesy of Hawai‘i Contemporary. Photo: Christopher Rohrer

Yayoi Kusama
Footprints of Life, 2010–2017
Fiberglass, paint
dimensions vary
Installation view, Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu Biennial 2017
Image courtesy of Hawai‘i Contemporary. Photo: Christopher Rohrer

Charlton Kūpa‘a Hee
Pōhue: Storied Gourds, 2017
ceramic, aerosol, enamel
dimensions vary
Installation view, Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu Biennial 2017
Image courtesy of Hawai‘i Contemporary. Photo: Christopher Rohrer

Chris Ritson
The Corallinales (biogenerative painting), 2017
Coralline algae, marine organisms, glass, metal, wood, acrylic, electronics, seawater
dimensions vary
Image courtesy of the artist

Greg Semu
After Hans Holbein the Younger – The Body of the Dead Christ (diptych detail), 2015
Digital photographic prints on acrylic lightbox
40 x 180 cm
Image courtesy of Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, and Alcaston Gallery,
Melbourne

Yayoi Kusama
I’m Here, but Nothing, 2000–2017
vinyl stickers, ultraviolet lights, furniture, household objects
dimensions vary
Installation view, Honolulu Biennial 2017
Image courtesy of Hawai‘i Contemporary. Photo: Christopher Rohrer

teamLab
Graffiti Nature, 2016–
Interactive digital installation
dimensions vary
Image courtesy of the artists

Honolulu Biennial 2017: Middle of Now | Here recap video

RESOURCES

All images courtesy of Honolulu Biennial Foundation (now Hawaiʻi Contemporary)

Click here to access the HB17 list of artists.

Click here to access the HB17 Catalogue.

Click here to access the HB17 Highlights.

Click here to access the HB17 Guide Book.

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