Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Binna Choi, and Noelle M.K.Y. Kahanu to curate Hawai‘i Triennial 2025

Wassan Al-Khudhairi

Hawai‘i Contemporary, presenter of Hawai‘i Triennial (the state’s largest, periodic, international exhibition of contemporary art), announced today the curatorial team for 2025. Wassan Al-Khudhairi, independent curator; Binna Choi, director of Casco Art Institute (Utrecht) and co-artistic director of Singapore Biennale 2022; and Noelle M.K.Y. Kahanu, independent curator and faculty at University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (Honolulu) will take the helm of the organization’s fourth biennial/triennial exhibition.

The curators were nominated during an open-call process (which yielded more than 40 nominations) and selected by Hawai‘i Contemporary’s board of directors, global art advisors, and artistic directors emeriti. Hawai‘i Contemporary welcomes the curators for Hawai‘i Triennial 2025 (HT25) in a co-curatorial model, a departure from the curatorial structures of previous iterations of the periodic exhibition.

“We’re excited to present these exceptional curators,” said Rosina Potter, executive director of Hawai‘i Contemporary. “They offer a diverse and deep knowledge base, and we’re thrilled with their intentional and collaborative approach to curating. We’re looking forward to working with them on Hawai‘i Triennial 2025.”

Hailing from varying backgrounds, the three curators will work together to develop and carry out a curatorial premise for HT25. A multi-site exhibition of contemporary art across the Hawaiian Islands, HT25 will be on view Feb. 15–May 4, 2025.

“After a decade of exploring ‘the commons’ and its art across Europe and Asia, I have encountered its most palpable presence right here in Hawai‘i, in the middle of the Pacific,” Choi said. “With aloha and deep gratitude, I will continue learning about the power and beauty of this land and the (inter)generational, native/non-native collaborative work of protecting it and its values, as I carry this special responsibility of curating Hawai‘i Triennial 2025.”

Hawai‘i Contemporary (formerly Honolulu Biennial Foundation) recently held a successful Hawai‘i Triennial from Feb. 18–May 8, 2022, which attracted more than 100,600 attendees to seven exhibition partner sites on the Hawaiian Island of O‘ahu and featured 43 artists and art collectives from Hawai‘i, the Pacific and beyond. Highlights included installations by artists Ai Weiwei, Theaster Gates, Michael Joo, Izumi Kato, Yuree Kensaku, 目[mé], Leeroy New, Pacific Sisters, Piliāmo‘o (Mark Hamasaki and Kapulani Landgraf), Jennifer Steinkamp, Momoyo Torimitsu, and Nā Maka o ka ‘Āina.

“As someone who has witnessed the transition of this exhibition from Honolulu Biennial to Hawai‘i Triennial and has attended all of its iterations, I am thrilled to be a part of its continuing evolution,” Kahanu said. “I look forward to maximizing our community connections to people and place and to building profound and transformative relationships between artists, institutions and our audiences.”

Wassan Al-Khudhairi is an independent curator and curatorial advisor for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Her upcoming projects include exhibitions and accompanying publications with artists Hajra Waheed and Dominic Chambers. She is also co-curating a group exhibition at the Misk Art Institute in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, opening in spring 2023. Most recently, Al-Khudhairi held the position of Ferring Family Foundation Chief Curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, where she organized exhibitions and new commissions with artists Gala Porras-Kim, Martine Gutierrez, Derek Fordjour, Stephanie Syjuco, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Bethany Collins, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Guan Xiao, Hayv Kahraman, among others. She was co-curator for the 6th Asian Art Biennial in Taiwan in 2017 and co-artistic director for the 9th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea in 2012. She served as the Hugh Kaul curator of modern and contemporary art at Birmingham Museum of Art and, as founding director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar, Al-Khudhairi oversaw the opening of the Museum in 2010 and co-curated the exhibition Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art and curated Cai Guo-Qiang: Saraab.

Binna Choi has served as the director at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, Utrecht, in the Netherlands since June 2008. Under her directorship, Casco has been exploring the commons as an alternative to binary worldviews and systems through and for art, taking it for their organizing guideline. Her key curatorial-collaborative projects at Casco include Grand Domestic Revolution (2009–2012), Site for Unlearning (Art Organization) (2014–2018), Travelling Farm Museum of Forgotten Skills (2018–ongoing), alongside engagement with networks like Arts Collaboratory and Cluster. Choi served as co-artistic director for Singapore Biennale 2022, named Natasha, and curator for the 11th Gwangju Biennale, titled The Eighth Climate (What does art do?). As a member of Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne, Germany, she curated the exhibition project Gwangju Lessons (2020), which traveled to the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju, South Korea. Choi is also part of the faculty of Dutch Art Institute and an advisor for Afield.

Noelle M.K.Y. Kahanu (Kanaka ʻŌiwi/Native Hawaiian) is a 15-year veteran of Bishop Museum in Honolulu, where she developed scores of exhibitions and programs. She worked on the major renovations of Hawaiian Hall (2009) and Pacific Hall (2013), as well as the landmark E Kū Ana Ka Paia: Unification, Responsibility and the Kū Images exhibition (2010). She has a law degree from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and previously served as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., where she worked on issues affecting Native Hawaiians, American Indians, and Alaska Natives. She is currently an associate specialist in Public Humanities and Native Hawaiian Programs in the American Studies Department at University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her current research and practice explore the liberating and generative opportunities when museums “seed” rather than cede authority.

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