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iBiennale: International Art Pop Up

Noe Tanigawa
Noe Tanigawa
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Cities that host biennials soon find a lot of art events piggybacking on the excitement.  Last Friday night, a throng of party goers kicked off the Honolulu Biennial for its two month run at Ward Center.  Saturday night, another international art show opened in an unexpected space on Nimitz Highway.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports, the new iBiennale got off to an auspicious start.

Noe Tanigawa
Credit Noe Tanigawa
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Koan Jeff Baysa is an avid art collector who has been curating exhibitions internationally for over 20 years. He is a co-Founder of the Honolulu Biennial.

Artopocene: iBiennale MMXIX runs daily noon to 6pm through March 24th 2019 at the YCenter for Visual Arts, 900 Nimitz Highway.  Saturday, March 16, it will be open until 9pm. 

You'd have to admit it was a great party Saturday, in the amazing YCenter for Visual Arts.  The Center is next to a 7/11 in a mall on Nimitz.  A food truck outside was the main location giveaway, but once inside, you know you're in the right place.  Ara Laylo was there, congratulating the Director, the Curator, of the first inaugural iBiennale, KJ Baysa.

Baysa:  We have 66 artists from seventeen different countries, one third of whom are from Hawai‘i. we’re free and open to the public.  That distinguishes us, and that was part of our mission.

Baysa:  We’re a start up, we’re scrappy, resourceful and we’re hard working.  We put in lots of hours but we wanted to do it right.

Noe Tanigawa
Credit Noe Tanigawa
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Linda Yamamoto. USA

Baysa takes the theme for the iBiennale from the word anthropocene which is our current age, when humans have been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.  Baysa coined the word Arthropocene.

Baysa:  That was a basis for saying that art is the most important thing influencing society at this point in time. That’s the underlying theme beside activism and social responsibility.

The iBiennale features an interactive piece by Yoko Ono, and Masami Teraoka’s ramen eater is now a rug.  Cody Anderson’s life size palm frond is awesome in pencil, and you’ll see Tibetan imagery morphed by Tsherin Sherpa.  Spencer Tunick is showing one of his nude invasion photos, and last year the Asia Society showed FX Harsono’s videos at midnight in Times Square for the whole month of January.  He’s got a piece in the iBiennale.  Linda Yamamoto’s plaster hands are eloquent, and about as hopeful as we can get.

Ran into Colburn Pollock with his friend, Josie Jester gazing happily into Linny Morris’ piece on the second level.

Jester:  It’s kinda funny because it makes me want to go in the ocean so bad!  It’s almost torturous.  But it also makes me think good things, like when I was looking at it I thought, Wow, the ocean is so fun! It just makes me happy! And it never gets old.

Pollock:  “I’m really impressed with this show, to be honest.  I came here with like no expectations really, I wasn’t sure what kind of event it would be, and just the level of artistry here is pretty  breathtaking.

The iBiennale aims to be an itinerant exhibition, opening in various island locations around the globe, always with ample Hawai‘i artists participating. 

Noe Tanigawa
Credit Noe Tanigawa
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Baysa:  I feel that my purpose is to consider Honolulu, which is one of the most remote cities in the world with population of over 500, 000; to bring the vibrant art community that we have here in Hawai‘i to an international platform.  We are truly isolated and I really want to be the bridge or the conduit or the pipeline, between contemporary art and culture in Hawai‘i to the rest of the world.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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