People’s Biennial

  • Jennifer McCormick, Medical Demonstrative Evidence, 2006-2010.

  • James Wallner, Masters on Canvas, 2004

  • Bob Newland, Keepin’ kids off drugs in South Dakota, 1983.

  • Installation view at Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

  • Dennis Newell, Lego Battle with Droids and Clones (detail), 2010.

Curated by Jens Hoffmann, Harrell Fletcher

People’s Biennial is an exhibition that examines the work of artists who operate outside the sanctioned mainstream art world. As such it recognizes a wide array of artistic expression present in many communities across the United States. Working in cities that are not considered the primary art capitals, the 36 artists in this exhibition present significant contemporary work ranging from documentary photographs of military life in the heartland, to video works focusing on the biological activity in urban ecosystems, and complex, minute marble-like sculptures carved out of soap bars. In covering even the little-known, the overlooked, the marginalized, and the excluded, the exhibition represents a real snapshot of creative practice in America today.

People’s Biennial also proposes an alternative to the standard contemporary art biennial, which mostly focuses on art from a few select cities (New York, Los Angeles, occasionally Chicago, Miami or San Francisco). It questions the often exclusionary and insular process of selecting art that has at times turned the spaces where art is exhibited into privileged havens seemingly detached from the realities of everyday life.

The exhibition is the result of a year of research into the creative communities of five American cities: Portland, Oregon; Rapid City, South Dakota; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Haverford, Pennsylvania. In each place, the curators collaborated with an art institution and participated in a series of public events and open-calls, meeting hundreds of artists, which led to the selection of the works on view.


Jens Hoffmann

Jens Hoffmann is Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Programs, at The Jewish Museum. Formerly, he was Director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco from 2007-2012. He was previously Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London from 2003 to 2007. Hoffmann was 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 has organized more than 50 shows internationally including the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011) and the 9th Shanghai Biennial (2012).

Harrell Fletcher

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.


touring schedule

Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College
Haverford, PA, United States
January 27, 2012 - March 2, 2012

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art
Winston-Salem, NC, United States
July 8, 2011 - September 18, 2011

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Scottsdale, AZ, United States
June 23, 2011 - January 15, 2012

Dahl Arts Center
Rapid City, SD, United States
January 14, 2011 - March 27, 2011

Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
Portland, OR, United States
September 10, 2010 - October 17, 2010

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