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  • Sep 20, 2017

Jens Hoffmann, Scott Lawrimore and Nina Tonga appointed to lead Honolulu Biennial 2019

Jens Hoffmann (pictured right) has been appointed artistic director of the 2019 Honolulu Biennial, while

On September 19, the Honolulu Biennial Foundation (HBF) announced Jens Hoffmann as the artistic director of the upcoming Honolulu Biennial, while Scott Lawrimore and Nina Tonga were appointed lead curators. The Honolulu Biennial’s next edition, following the entry of Hawaiʻi into the international biennial circuit this year, will take place between March 8 and May 5 in 2019.

Regarding these appointments, directors and co-founders of HBF, Isabella Ellaheh Hughes and Katherine Ann Leilani Tuider, noted all three appointees as having “a history of making innovative exhibitions of pressing issues with depth and sensitivity to place, occasion and history.”

Hoffmann is currently the director of special exhibitions and public programs at the Jewish Museum in New York and chief curator-at-large at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. He is also now working as the co-artistic director of FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, set to open in 2018, and as guest curator at Fundación Arte in Buenos Aires. Hoffmann was previously co-curator of the second San Juan Triennial, 12th Istanbul Biennial and the ninth Shanghai Biennial, among many others. As a writer and exhibition maker based in New York, he has published widely in museum monographs and art magazines, including Artforum, Frieze, Parkett and Texte zur Kunst. In 2009, Hoffmann founded The Exhibitionist: Journal on Exhbition Making. He currently also works as the editor-at-large for Mousse Magazine.

Set to join the Honolulu Biennial as lead curator, Lawrimore is an art historian and writer, and is currently the exhibition designer at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum—the Hawaiʻi State Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Previously, he was the director of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the University of Washington School of Art, Art History and Design, and has taught practicum and curatorial theory at the univeristy, as well as at Cornish College of Arts and Seattle University. 

Joining Lawrimore on the curatorial platform is New Zealand-based art historian Tonga. She focuses her writing and curatorial projects on contemporary art in New Zealand and the Pacific, and is currently curator of Pacific art at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and the co-chairperson of Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust.

With these new appointments, the Honolulu Biennial 2019 seeks to enrich the cultural fabric of Oceania by including art from the Americas and Southeast Asia, widening the exhibition’s geographical reach. Hoffmann, Lawrimore and Tonga described their vision for the event in a joint statement: “Honolulu Biennial is an opportunity to position Pacific dialogues 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.”

Alice Dingle is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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