Honolulu Biennial ’19: To Make Wrong Right Now
The source of my origins lie beneath my feet, the breath in my chest originated in Pō the destiny of my race is plunged into my gut and infesting my veins with a new nationalism, old spiritualism, and a need to make wrong right now.
In 2017, the inaugural Honolulu Biennial placed Honolulu on the world map as a destination for contemporary art. Inspired by the theme “To Make Wrong / Right / Now,” from participating kānaka maoli (native Hawaiian) artist Imaikalani Kalahele’s poem, Manifesto, Honolulu Biennial curators have invited 19 artists and artist groups from Hawai‘i and 29 artist and artist groups from the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas to create original contemporary art works that contribute to local and global dialogues by connecting indigenous perspectives, knowledge, and creative expression. The official opening kicks off on March 8 and will run until May 5, allowing art lovers from across the world to experience the beauty of contemporary art at a variety of locales throughout the city.
“The Biennial is a moment for reflection, on both collective and individual histories, for all of the participating artists,” says Honolulu Biennial Executive Director and Co-Founder Katherine Ann Leilani Tuider. “It’s stirring up discussions about contemporary art—what aesthetically does it look like from artists representing specific, shifting cultural centers of the Pacific—places that are united by the Pacific, not divided by it.”
The Honolulu Biennial is only the second major exhibition series in the world to focus on contemporary art practices of the Pacific, and this year’s curatorial approach emphasizes genealogical ties within the region and the transmission of knowledge between generations. Installations will be exhibited at more than 10 sites around O‘ahu, including historic sites in downtown Honolulu, the McCoy Pavilion coastal venue, and the Biennial’s central location, The Hub.
Located in the heart of Ward Village, The Hub—an 18,000-square foot venue—is the epicenter of the Biennial, featuring 24 artists and installations under one roof. Visitors to The Hub will be greeted to the space by a fully immersive, colorful installation by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, where you’ll walk through a display of thousands of hand-dyed wool strings that play with the idea of ‘aha (cordage) and the tracing and recording of many different paths.
Papua New Guinea will be represented by textile artist and women’s rights activist Florence Jaukae Kamel. Using the art of bilum weaving—hand-woven string bags—which she’d learned from her grandmother, she extended the twist and loop knotting technique to innovate “bilum wear” and large textile installations. She’ll also be producing a fashion show with couture bilum clothing.
Purposefully chosen for its ocean-side location by the Pacific, McCoy Pavilion, at Ala Moana Regional Beach Park, will feature artwork by well-known Hawai‘i artistPaul Pfeiffer. The multi-media installation features a Pacquiao and Mayweather boxing match—an instant Hawai‘i-Philippines connection—projected as a manipulated blend of video and sonic, magnified sound to focus on the spectacle of sport, interrogating how images and their meanings are produced and shared.
The Biennial spreads out through Honolulu with other installations and exhibits at Bishop Museum, the Honolulu Museum of Art, and the John Young Museum of Art at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. The downtown loop—Ali‘iolani Hale, Foster Botanical Garden, Hawai‘i State Art Museum and the YWCA Laniakea will host 12 artists. Neighboring Chinatown will be home to Ei Arakawa’s LED light installations and Samoan artist Rosanna Raymond, whose installation SaVAge K’lub, a site-specific multi-disciplinary installation, progresses and evolves over the course of the Biennial from her experiences with other artists, communities, and passersby.
At Honolulu Biennial 2019, artists will travel from many Pacific Island regions including Aotearoa, Costa Rica, Guåhan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Tuvalu, and the continental United States, and indigenous cultures including Arawan, Cherokee, Okinawan, Seediq, and Wiradjuri People will be represented. For these artists, the Pacific is the connection, the ‘aha, the cord between them that is woven with indigenous knowledge, decolonization, mana wāhine, contesting histories, and wahi pana (storied places), all themes running through the Honolulu Biennial 2019.