Fumio Nanjo, curatorial director of Honolulu Biennial in 2016.               Photo by Makiko Nawa.Courtesy Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. 

Fumio Nanjo will serve as the Curatorial Director for the inaugural Honolulu Biennial, which will occur in the spring of 2017. Nanjo, who curates internationally, is also the Director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, a position that he has held since 2006. He served as commissioner of the Japan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1997), commissioner at the Taipei Biennale (1998), member of jury committee of the Turner Prize (1998), co-curator of the 3rd Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (1999), artistic director of the Yokohama Triennale (2001), jury member of the Golden Lion Prize of the Venice Biennale (2005) and artistic director of the Singapore Biennale (2006, 2008). Advisory positions include board member of Comité International des Musées d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (CIMAM) and member of Association International des Critiques d’ Art (AICA). He was awarded Foreign Minister’s Commendation in 2007 for his years of contributions to the promotion of friendly relations between Japan and other countries.     

Nanjo has a great interest in examining Honolulu as an urban city in the middle of the Pacific, and what it means for Honolulu to be a site for a contemporary art biennial, a meeting point for the regions on which Honolulu Biennial focuses.

Commenting on his appointment as Curatorial Director, Nanjo released the following statement:

It is a great honor and joy to be the first curatorial director of the inaugural Honolulu Biennial. I believe Honolulu Biennial is poised to be one of the major international exhibitions and is a compelling site for a new biennial with its strong ties to the wider Asia-Pacific regions.

Art in Asia had been booming over the past 10 years. So it is a great merit to realize an international exhibition at the center of this Asia-Pacific region, bridging the art from Asia, North and South America, and Oceania. At the same time Hawai’i and all the other islands in Oceania, have their own indigenous cultural traditions and trailblazing contemporary artists, which have yet to be widely exhibited and made accessible in other biennials. By respecting these indigenous cultures and local contemporary artists from Hawai’i and other islands in Oceania, I am certain that Honolulu Biennial will be a one of the most meaningful and important sites for international exhibitions and become integral to the global art biennial infrastructure.

Art is a fine vehicle to convey a new vision of the world. It reminds us of where we come from and where we are going. I believe Honolulu Biennial will be a benefit to the local audience in Hawai’i, by both exhibiting artists from there and engaging the community in public programs, and also the wider contemporary art world, who will travel from afar to experience this new biennial and Hawai’i, a truly great chain of islands and ideal site for hosting an international biennial.


Ngahiraka Mason is the Curator of Honolulu Biennial 2017. She is the former indigenous curator at Auckland Art Gallery (NZ), a writer, educator, historian and trained fine artist.

Her career at New Zealand’s oldest and most prestigious art museum began in 1994, where she gathered experience working with European and New Zealand historical, modern and contemporary art, developing the institution’s art collections, acquisitions and commissioning of site specific contemporary art.

Ngahiraka has international biennial experience with the Noumea Biennial (2000) and the 2nd Auckland Triennial (2004). She has been an advisor to the Asian Society Museum on New Zealand and Pacific art, and contributed writings for the Andy Warhol Museum, Contemporary Commonwealth, National Gallery Victoria, Australia, the 17th Sydney Biennial, Australia and Sakahan, the National Gallery of Canada and for her New Zealand and international exhibitions.

Ngahiraka is a community arts advocate, mentor to artists, speaker at conferences and a discussant at symposia. She is a Shibori practitioner and gives workshops on pickling jabong, mango, kumquat and eggplant. Ngahiraka is a permanent resident who loves Hawaii and has a soft spot for Hilo. In 2015 she and Noelle Kahanu were jurors of the annual exhibition, CONTACT, organized by the Pu'uhonua Society at the Honolulu Museum of Art School. 

Curatorial Advisory Board

Supporting Nanjo and Mason is a team of curatorial advisors who make up the Curatorial Advisory Board of Honolulu Biennial 2017:

Dr. Kóan Jeff Baysa

Dr. Greg Dvorak

Dr. Katherine Higgins

Dr. Margo Machida