Honolulu Biennial 2019: Going Deeper

Jan 18, 2019

Rosanna Raymond, SaVAge K’lub 2010–ongoing. Mixed media installation with ongoing actiVAtions. Installed dimensions variable. The Brisbane SaVAge K’lub developed for APT8. This project was realized with the support of Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa and Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust, Auckland.
Credit Natasha Harth - QAGOMA

The usual museum-going crowd on O‘ahu is joined by countless kids and families who remember Honolulu Biennial 2017 very fondly.  If the goal was to highlight local artists, bring in exciting international artists, and engage the community, it worked!  Thanks to the efforts of scores of local volunteers.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports, this year’s Honolulu Biennial, HB19, will run March 8 to May 5th.

Katherine Tuider, co-founder of the Honolulu Biennial, is now Executive Director of the two month celebration. Here, HB19's Hub at Ward Village, avant le deluge. After the widely acclaimed first Biennial, HB19 has grown to over ten venues including the Bishop Museum, Ali'iolani Hale, the John Young Museum, McCoy Pavillion, and yet to be named pop-up venues in Chinatown.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

It’s the second ever Honolulu Biennial, and executive Director Katherine Tuider and I toured the future HB19 hub last week.  It’s 18 thousand square feet in the former Famous Footwear space in Ward Village----the focus at the Hub, by the way,  will be digital media. 

Biennials are meant to activate an entire city with art, and HB19 will ripple into ten plus venues across town—from the Bishop Museum, through Chinatown, to new this year, McCoy Pavillion, with six new works in Foster Garden, one of HB17’s outstanding venues.

"I’m going to make a double hulled voyaging canoe out of invasive trees and shrubs."

Bernice Akamine, Kalo, 2015-present. 87 individual kalo plants each one 15-24" high x 8"-36" wide. Total dimension of 87 kalo plants in a rectangular configuration, 27'x 19' or larger dependent upon space available. For HB19, this piece will be installed in Ali'iolani Hale, home of the Hawai'i State Supreme Court, downtown Honolulu.
Credit Bernice Akamine

Artist, landscape designer, Leland Miyano is bringing past experience into a piece he hopes will spark questions about the future.

Miyano:  I met Nainoa Thompson when I was in 7th grade, and we started doing canoe parts and paddles, things like that.  I started by restoring a Kapingimarangi canoe right out of high school, then I’ve always been interestd in and built small canoes.  But this will be the largest canoe form, with the community’s help.

At 10 feet by 50 feet, Miyano’s canoe will approach the Hōkūle‘a’s size, its deck and hull will be mostly strawberry guava, the mast and booms will be bamboo.

Miyano:  I’d like this canoe to be a metaphor, as if we were trying to build things out of diminished resources. having to discover some place to go.  Also to connect the canoe to not just the ocean, but to the land, which is always the destiny.

Yayoi Kusama. I'm Here, But Nothing. 2000/2017. HB17 featured two works by this international art star, including "Footprints of Life," installed to great effect at Foster Garden.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

One could imagine having to flee the islands, maybe invasives would be the only material left…

Miyano:  Exactly.  I want the community that participates to think about these things.  If you really had to use this canoe, who would go, because not everyone could go?  The size, the scale of the canoe…

Miyano is looking for volunteers now to help create it---and maybe  learn survival tactics.  You can volunteer at the Honolulu Biennial website online.  Now is the time to check online for volunteer opportunities, book docent tours for kid groups, and plan your trip to Honolulu, March 8th through May 5th 2019.

This edition of the Biennial features 19 Hawai‘i artists and groups and 29 from elsewhere in the Pacific.  Digital media will be the focus at this year’s Hub, with over 20 artists presenting work there, including 8 commissions. 

Two artists, Abraham Cruzvillegas (Mexico) and Bernice Akamine (Hawai‘i), have been commissioned to create works for multiple sites, often in dialogue with each other.  Note that the Honolulu Museumm of Art will host works by Cherokee, Tlingit, and Kānaka Maoli artists, while the John Young Museum, a new venue for HB19, will show Chinese and Haida (Canada) artists.  The Hawai‘i State Art Museum is another new venue participating this year, where work by Imaikalani Kalahele and by artists from Aotearoa (New Zealand) will be featured.

The YWCA Laniākea is getting in on the action, too, with a variety of work including an interactive audio installation by Central Pacific Time reinterpreting compositions by Queen Lili‘uokalani.  Pop up events are planned in Chinatown through the run of HB19, March 8 to May 5, 2019.

Tuider points out, Honolulu’s Biennial is one of only two in the world that focuses on issues and artists of the Pacific, and with this year’s programming HB19 shows it aims to grapple with those concerns deeply.  The theme of HB19 is taken from the last lines of a poem by featured artist, Imaikalani Kalahele:  

To Make Wrong / Right / Now.

The poem, Manifesto, by participating Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) artist Imaikalani Kalahele:

The source
my origins
lie beneath my feet,

the breath

in my chest


in Pō

the destiny

of my race


plunged into

my gut



my veins

with a new nationalism,

old spiritualism,

and a need

to make wrong




— Imaikalani Kalahele, “Manifesto” from Kalahele (Honolulu: Kalamakū Press)

Roster of participating artists:

Key: Name (Tribe, Clan, or Ethnic affiliation | Currently Resides (if different)) 

ʻImaikalani Kalāhele (Kānaka Maoli | Hawaiʻi)

Bernice Akamine (Kānaka Maoli | Hawaiʻi)

Leland Miyano (Okinawa | Hawaiʻi)

Bruna Stude (Croatia | Hawaiʻi)

Florence Jaukae Kamel (Papua New Guinea)

Natalie Robertson (Ngāti Porou, Clann Dhònnchaidh | Aotearoa)

Taupōuri Tangarō (Hawaiʻi)

Kapulani Landgraf (Kānaka Maoli | Hawaiʻi)

Paul Pfeiffer (Philippines (born Hawaiʻi) | United States)

Hoʻoulu ʻĀina Artist Collective (Kānaka Maoli | Hawaiʻi)

Marie Watt (Seneca | United States)

Abraham Cruzvillegas (Mexico)

Marianne Nicolson (Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw | Canada)

Brook Andrew (Wiradjuri People | Australia)

Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries (South Korea, United States)

Ellen Lesperance (United States)

Postcommodity (Cherokee, Mestizo | United States)

Andy Graydon (United States (born Hawaiʻi))

Chiharu Shiota (Japan | Germany)

Chenta Laury (African-American | Hawaiʻi)

Rosanna Raymond, SaVAge K'lub (Samoa, Tuvalu | Aotearoa)

Meiro Koizumi (Japan)

Amy Yao (United States)

Ei Arakawa (Japan | United States)

Matt Kubo (United States (born Hawaiʻi))

Solomon Enos (Kānaka Maoli | Hawaiʻi)

Lee Kit (Hong Kong | Hong Kong, Taiwan)

Misaki Kawai (Japan | United States)

Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit, Unangax̂ | United States)

Bradley Capello (United States | Hawaiʻi)

Maika’i Tubbs (Kānaka Maoli | United States)

Ara Laylo (Philippines | Hawaiʻi)

Mata Aho Collective (Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangātira, Ngāti Awa,

Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Rangitāne ki Wairarapa | Aotearoa)

DAKOgamay (Philippines, Netherlands)

Raymond Boisjoly (Haida | Canada)

Taloi Havini (Hakö People | Autonomous Region of Bougainville | Australia)

Kalisolaite ‘Uhila (Tonga | Aotearoa)

Janet Lilo (Niue, Ngā Puhi, Sāmoa | Aotearoa)

James Bamba (Chamorro | Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands)

Guan Xiao (China)

Pio Abad and Frances Wadsworth (Philippines | United Kingdom)

Demian DinéYazhi´ (Naasht’ézhí Tábąąhá, Tódích’íí’nii | United States)

Jeremy Leatinu’u (Ngāti Maniapoto, Sāmoa | Aotearoa)

DB Amorin (Azores, Sāmoa (born Hawaiʻi) | United States)

Central Pacific Time (Kānaka Maoli, United States | Hawaiʻi)

Mario Lemafa (Sāmoa (born Hawaiʻi) | United States)

Cory Taum (Kānaka Maoli | Hawaiʻi)