Honolulu Biennial 2019: Artistic Director, Curatorial Appointments Announced

Honolulu Biennial 2019

Honolulu Biennial Foundation (HBF), which presents Honolulu Biennial, announces the appointment of Jens Hoffmann as Artistic Director and Scott Lawrimore and Nina Tonga as Curators of the second edition of Honolulu Biennial.

“We are enthused about the incredibly dynamic profiles of our Artistic Director and Curators. All three have a history of making innovative exhibitions of pressing issues with depth and sensitivity to place, occasion and history,” shares Isabella Ellaheh Hughes and Katherine Ann Leilani Tuider, Directors and co-founders of HBF. “We are certain they will advance a second edition of Honolulu Biennial that expands the imperatives of this uniquely-poised biennial even further.”

The dates for Honolulu Biennial, which in its second edition will continue to be a multi-venue arts festival, also have been released: March 8 – May 5, 2019.

“Honolulu Biennial is an opportunity to position Pacific dialogs in global contexts that transcend nationalism, regionalism and isolationism. Hawaiʻi as our archipelagic point of departure—an intersection of cultures formed by distinct experiences of islands and island-nations and patterns of oceanic migration and exchange—offers an unstable though forward-looking lens in which to engage the world’s relationship to this place” share Hoffmann, Lawrimore and Tonga in a joint statement. “We look forward to working together to present a second edition that builds on the successes of the first by expanding its reach to include artists from the Americas and Southeast Asia, a satellite site located on a neighbor island, new venues in Honolulu, and more public programming.”

Honolulu Biennial, a multi-site, contemporary visual arts festival, debuted from March 8 – May 8 2017 throughout various sites within Honolulu, welcoming around 97,305 visits over the course of eight weeks and presenting 65 public programs. Presented by Honolulu Biennial Foundation (HBF), a nonprofit arts organization and the Howard Hughes Corporation, it was entitled, Middle of Now | Here, with Fumio Nanjo, Director of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, serving as Curatorial Director and Ngahiraka Mason, formerly Indigenous Art, Maori Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, as Curator of this inaugural event.


Jens Hoffmann, born 1974 in San José, Costa Rica, Artistic Director, HB19, is a writer and exhibition maker based in New York. He is currently Director of Special Exhibitions and Public Programs at the Jewish Museum, New York and Susanne Feld Hillberry Chief Curator-at-Large at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. In addition he is Co-Artistic Director of FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art (opening 2018.) Previously he was the Director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco and Director of Exhibitions at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, London. He was curator for the 2nd San Juan Triennial, 12th Istanbul Biennial, 9th Shanghai Biennial among others. Since 2006 Hoffmann has been curator and senior advisor for North and Latin American Art at the Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco. He currently is a guest curator at the Fundación Arte in Buenos Aires.

He has published widely in museum publications and art magazines. His most recent book (Curating) From Z to A is forthcoming with JRP|Ringier, Zurich, in the October of 2017. He is the Founding Editor of The Exhibitionist: Journal on Exhibition Making as well as Editor-at-Large for Mousse Magazine. His writing frequently appears in Artforum, Frieze, Parkett and Texte zur Kunst. In 2016 he was awarded the American Curator’s Association Award for Curatorial Excellence.

Scott Lawrimore, born 1970, Los Angeles, USA, Curator, HB19, is an accomplice to artists and exhibition caretaker based in Honolulu. He is currently Exhibit Designer at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum—the Hawaiʻi State Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Previously, he was Installation Manager of the 2017 Honolulu Biennial, Director of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the University of Washington School of Art + Art History + Design, Chief Curator of the Frye Art Museum, and founder of his own exhibition space, Lawrimore Project. In these, and other appointments over a 20-year career, he has been caretaker of over 300 exhibitions.

As a writer and art historian, he was the Founding Editor of the Jake Journal at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, and has contributed to, published, or edited numerous exhibition and museum publications including Leo Saul Berk: Structure and Ornament (UW Press, 2015), Mark Tobey | Teng Baiye: Seattle | Shanghai (UW Press, 2014), and Buster Simpson // Surveyor (UW Press, 2013). As an advocate for future cultural producers, Lawrimore has taught practicum and curatorial theory courses for art history, BFA and MFA candidates at Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle University, and the University of Washington.

Nina Tonga, born 1983, Auckland, New Zealand, Curator, HB19, is an art historian and Curator Pacific Art at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Te Papa. She is from the villages of Vaini and Kolofo’ou in Tonga and lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She holds a Master of Arts specializing in contemporary Pacific art and is a doctoral candidate in Art History at the University of Auckland. Her current research focuses on contemporary Pacific art in New Zealand and the Pacific with a particular interest in internet art from 2000 to present.

Nina has been involved in a number of writing and curatorial projects with Pacific artists from New Zealand and the wider Pacific. In 2012 she was an associate curator for the exhibition Home AKL, the first major group exhibition of contemporary Pacific art developed by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Other curatorial projects include Koloa et Al at Fresh Gallery Otara, Tonga ‘i Onopooni: Tonga Contemporary at Pātaka Art + Museum and most recently Tīvaevae: Out of the Glory Box at Te Papa. Nina is also the co-chairperson of Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust.

About Honolulu Biennial Foundation:

Honolulu Biennial Foundation (HBF) supports the local arts infrastructure with a global outreach by presenting Honolulu Biennial, a visual arts festival and signature event for Hawaiʻi focused on exhibiting artists from the countries and cultures linked by the Pacific Ocean. Throughout the year, HBF serves the local community by presenting educational outreach programs, smaller scale exhibitions and professional development opportunities for the local arts community.

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