People’s Biennial

People’s Biennial

Curated by Harrell Fletcher and Jens Hoffmann

For this exhibition, five art institutions in the United States will present a biennial of contemporary art consisting of works by five artists in each of the institutions’ local communities, selected by the show’s guest curators, Harrell Fletcher and Jens Hoffmann. The institutions must be in locations that lie outside mainstream art centers, but in places where art nonetheless thrives. Five appropriate, geographically widespread institutions will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. The curators will visit each community to choose artists and works, and will be available to conduct round-table discussions at each institution during their stay.

People’s Biennial is a response to several critical issues within the often-isolated world of art. Prominent among these is the fact that many biennial exhibitions in the United States focus primarily on art from just a few cities, usually New York and Los Angeles and sometimes Chicago, Miami, and San Francisco. An even larger problem is the art world’s ever increasing exclusivity, which has turned the spaces where art is produced and exhibited into privileged havens detached from the ordinary realities of everyday life. A critique of the often overly spectacular biennial model is also a key aspect of this exhibition. In contrast, People’s Biennial will display significant contemporary work originating from often overlooked locales by artists who have not had significant exposure, thus offering a potential model for more community-based and even grassroots exhibitions.


Harrell Fletcher is an artist who has worked collaboratively and individually on socially engaged, interdisciplinary projects for more than fifteen years; his work has been exhibited throughout the United States, and in Europe. He is a professor of art and social practice at portland state university in Portland, Oregon.

Jens Hoffmann is director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco. He has curated over three-dozen exhibitions since the late 1990s. He was director of exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London from 2003 to 2007. Hoffmann is an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, a guest professor at the Nuova Accademia de Belle Arti, Milan, and a faculty member at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the co-curator for the 12th Istanbul Biennial in fall 2011.

Jake Herman, The Legend of The Seven Campfires, c. 1960


Caleb Belden, Mary Bordeaux, Ally Drozd with Judge Evans and the Portland Community Court, Laura Deutch, Gary Freitas, Jorge Figueroa, Sylvia Gray (with the Elsewhere Collaborative), Jim Grosbach, Nicole Harvieux, Warren Hatch, Jake Herman, Maiza Hixson, David Hoelzinger, Howard Kleger, Cymantha Diaz Liakos, Ellen Lesperance, Jonathan Lindsay, Dennis Newell, Bob Newland, Raymond Mariani, Alan Massey, Jim McMillan, Jennifer McCormick, Beatrice Moore and The Mutant Piñata Show (with piñatas by Mike Maas, Ana Forner, Chris Clark, Tom Cooper, and Koryn Woodward), Joseph Perez, Bernie Peterson, Bruce Price, David Rosenak, JJ Ross, Andrew Sgarlet, Robert Smith-Shabazz, Rudy Speerschneider, Andrea Sweet, James Wallner, Presley H. Ward, Paul Wilson

Additional Images

Harrell Fletcher holding Uncle Binky by Jonathan Lindsay

Joseph Perez, Poetry in Motion, 2010 (video still)

Jorge Figueroa, Untitled, 2007

Artists lining up for an open call at the Dahl Arts Center, South Dakota

People's Biennial Blog

The People's Biennial blog follows and documents Harrell Fletcher and Jens Hoffmann's visits to Portland (OR), Scottsdale (AZ), Rapid City (SD), Winston-Salem (NC), and Haverford (PA), as the curators explore each community to conduct research, participate in lectures and roundtable discussions, and ultimately select works by local, non-established artists for the two year touring exhibition.

Visit the blog HERE