Aloha Kusama, artist’s polka dot sculpture heads to Hawaii

The bright pink installation heralds the first Honolulu Biennial, which launches next year

by Gareth Harris  |  17 February 2016
Aloha Kusama, artist’s polka dot sculpture heads to Hawaii
Yayoi Kusama's Footprints of Life (2012) in the grounds of 21_21 Design Site, at Tokyo Midtown, as part of the Roppongi Art Night 2012 art event, on March 25, 2012 in Tokyo, Japan.  Photo: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images
Yayoi Kusama’s crowd-pleasing, sculptural installation Footprints of Life will go on show in Hawaii next month (from 8 March) at a luxury residential development in Honolulu. The work is a taster for the inaugural Honolulu Biennial, which is due to open spring next year.

Kusama’s 15-part, polka-dotted pink piece will be displayed in the grounds of the IBM building, part of the Ward Village project under construction by the Howard Hughes Corporation.

The veteran Japanese artist will also create a new site-specific work for the Honolulu Biennial, which is being organised by Fumio Nanjo, the director of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum. The biennial, which is scheduled to open in March 2017, will include Hawaiian artists such as Les Filter Feeders (the artist duo Keith Tallett & Sally Lundborg), and the sculptor Charlton Kupa’a Hee.

Nanjo says in a statement: “Many of the artists I have sel ected are ones whose work directly engages with some of the social, political, ethnic, and geographic issues of island cultures, or of places—such as Hawaii and New Zealand—where there are long histories of both native and colonial cultures.”

Participating international artists will include Mohammed Kazem of the United Arab Emirates and Brett Graham of New Zealand. Organisers say that the works will be shown “across a range of community, historic, public and unconventional spaces”, and on neighbouring islands.

"I think that there is a lot of interest internationally in learning about artists from Hawaii, as well as a deep need for greater access to contemporary artists from outside of the Islands for our local audiences," says Isabella Ellaheh Hughes, the biennial co-founder.

The non-profit organisation, the Honolulu Biennial Foundation, is behind the new biennial. An online statement says that its objectives include repositioning "Honolulu as the leading epicentre for contemporary art and culture in the Pacific”. The Foundation has secured funding from supporters in the private and public sectors.  

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