Hawaii Mom Blog: Honolulu Biennial to Launch in March 2017

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March 1, 2016

Honolulu Biennial to Launch in March 2017

The first Honolulu Biennial will take place in Spring 2017, bringing a wide range of international artists to Hawai'i, to be exhibited alongside local artists and to engage with the rich cultural diversity of the Hawaiian Islands. Curated by Fumio Nanjo, director of Tokyo's Mori Art Museum and an internationally recognized scholar of contemporary art, the Honolulu Biennial will include indoor works as well as outdoor installations presented across a range of community, historic, public and unconventional spaces.

On March 8, 2016, the Biennial will kick-off a special preview program with an installation of Yayoi Kusama's multi-piece sculpture installation Footprints of Life, presented in partnership with The Howard Hughes Corporation® and Ward Village®, the company's 60-acre master planned community in the center of Honolulu. The selection of Kusama's work as a preview piece reflects the vision of the founders to celebrate and engage art and artists from the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific, while the installation, which will be held on the grounds of the iconic IBM building at Ward Village, demonstrates their commitment to providing accessible artistic opportunities for local residents and visitors alike. The March 2016 installation of Footprints of Life is the first time a work by Yayoi Kusama will be shown in Hawai'i, and the artist will also be creating a new, site-specific work specifically for the Biennial next year.

"The confluence of our geography, international cultural influences, and exceptional climate make Hawai'i the perfect place for a major art biennial," said Isabella Ellaheh Hughes, a co-founder of the Honolulu Biennial Foundation. "We will be able to present an exceptional array of outdoor installations as well as indoor exhibitions, and Fumio is a visionary curator to be working with, ensuring a diverse and compelling program that will highlight local talents alongside international ones. My colleagues and I are also extremely grateful to Ward Village for their early support, making it possible to bring Kusama's sculptures to Honolulu."

In addition to Kusama, the artists participating in the 2017 Honolulu Biennial reflect a diversity of styles, media, and international perspectives, and span the globe as well as the Hawaiian Islands. These artists include:
  • MAP Office, the multidisciplinary platform devised by Moroccan-born Laurent Gutierrez and French-born Valérie Portefaix. Based in Hong Kong since 1996, MAP Office uses different art forms to "map" both physical and imaginary territories. Their work has been show around the world, including at Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Georges Pompidou Centre (Paris) and the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (Beijing). 
  • Samoan-born, New Zealand-based Yuki Kihara, well-known for her interdisciplinary works which explore the relationships between gender, race, culture, and politics. Kihara's 2008 exhibition Living Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was the first solo show at the Museum for any New Zealand artist. 
  • Artists Keith Tallett and Sally Lundburg develop work together under the name Les Filter Feeders. They use art to explore shifting cultural, environmental, and social landscapes, especially in their native Hawai'i. 
  • Mohammed Kazem, from the United Arab Emirates, whose widely shown works typically include elements of video, sound art, photography, found objects, and performance. Kazem is one of a small group of well-known conceptual artists from the Emirates. 
  • Photographer Fiona Pardington is a New Zealand native of both Māori and Scottish descent. Her works have explored themes of cultural appropriation and includes a presentation at the Musée du Quai Branly of her photographs of casts of Māori, Pacific, and European heads. 
Kasuma's 15-piece sculptural installation uses the artist's iconic polka dots and characteristic bold colors, contrasting bright pink with black polka dots. These black-spotted, pink shapes symbolize the energy of life, and harmony between art and the environment. The site-responsive nature of this work enables it to change configuration based on its exhibition sites, exemplifying Kusama's invitation to the audience to examine and reconsider their own engagement with the public spaces that are often taken for granted.

The versatility of Footprints of Life has allowed this work to be shown both on land and floating on water, as in Taiwan's 2013 Taoyuan Land Art Festival and the 2011 Aichi Triennial, respectively. The installation at Honolulu's Ward Village places Kusama's piece in an iconic location known by local residents and visitors alike--the courtyard of a building designed by esteemed architect Vladimir Ossipoff--that is in the heart of a growing, forward thinking community.

"The Howard Hughes Corporation is excited to host Footprints of Life at Ward Village. Bringing this world-renowned artist to Hawai'i for the first time as a free exhibit is an incredible opportunity for the state," said Todd Apo, Vice President of Community Development at Ward Village for The Howard Hughes Corporation. "Personally, I am excited that it will provide a unique educational opportunity for our children without them having to travel thousands of miles to experience it. The incorporation of recognized artistic and cultural experiences is a key part of the Ward Village community. While we continue to invest in the physical development of Ward Village, we remain dedicated to the art and culture of Honolulu, and are thrilled to showcase that dedication with the exhibition of Footprints of Life at Ward Village."

A robust series of free public programs will support this preview installation, including weekly tours of the work that will introduce audiences to Kusama's prolific practice; art-making workshops for kids run in collaboration with Art Explorium; film screenings on Kusama's practice and celebrating other contemporary artistic filmmakers from Japan; a guest lecture on Kusama by Emily J Sano, Ph.D., Director Emerita, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and Coates-Cowden-Brown

Senior Advisor for Asian Art, San Antonio Museum of Art, as well as an artist talk by Charlton Kupa'a Hee, a Native Hawaiian, O'ahu-based artist, whose practice is very much in-dialogue with this Kusama installation, amongst other programs. Please visit wardvillageshops.com/kusama for more information about the Footprints of Life installation at Ward Village, as well as dates and times of accompanying programs.

Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan, Yayoi Kusama is one of the world's most important, influential and active artists working today. Her practice encompasses an array of media ranging from painting, drawing, performance, film, sculpture, and installation, to fashion, poetry, and "happenings" (public spectacles). Repetition and pattern, often in the form of polka dots, coupled with an interest in the cosmos are recurring themes in her practice. The artist's poetic and rhythmic responses to the natural world and her own journey through life are reflected in the autobiographical aspects of her work. With a conceptual art-based practice, her work is in dialogue with some of the most important movements in the 20th and 21st centuries: pop art, conceptual art, feminism, Art Brut, abstract expressionism and minimalism.

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