Artist

Yuki KIHARA

Yuki KIHARA

Sina ma Tuna (Sina and her eel)
2003 Courtesy of Yuki Kihara and Milford Galleries Dunedin

INTRODUCTION

How King Malietoa Forbid Cannibalism

Fue Tagata; Ghostly Bodies

Tonumaipe'a; How She Was Saved by the Bats

Sina ma Tuna; Sina and Her Eel

Lalava Taupou

Yuki Kihara is an artist of Japanese and Sāmoan descent. In this series about the history of pre-colonial Sāmoa, the artist herself perform scenes drawn from fāgono stories (myths and legends) of her Sāmoan ancestry. The dynamic color and style of the series’ photography references the work of Charles McPhee (1910-2002), a New Zealand painter known for his dramatic velvet paintings, a technique popular in the 1970s that uses velvet as a canvas. McPhee often portrayed Polynesian women as “dusky maidens,” positioning them in coy and overtly sexual ways through the colonial gaze. Within his paintings, the viewer can see a curious prejudice and discrimination that doesn't see his subjects as equal human beings. Kihara’s work has created as an expression of resistance and criticism against a colonial perspective that sees Indigenous people as commercial objects. Here, Kihara uses her body as an artistic material to challenge the colonial representation that exists in the spaces between sex, race, culture, and politics.

PROFILE

Interdisciplinary Artist. Born in Sāmoa in 1975, Works and Lives in Sāmoa. Yuki KIHARA is of Japanese and Sāmoan decent. Her work seeks to challenge dominant and singular historical narratives by exploring the intersectionality between identity politics, decolonization and climate change through visual arts, dance, and curatorial practice. In 2008, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York presented a solo exhibition of Kihara’s work entitled ‘Living Photographs’ held at the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing in The Department of Modern and Contemporary Art featuring highlights of her interdisciplinary art practice, followed by an acquisition of her works by the museum for their permanent collection. Kihara’s work can also be found in collections, among others, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; British Museum; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art and Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand. Kihara is currently a research fellow at the National Museum of World Cultures in the Netherlands. In 2019, The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa selected Kihara to represent the Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022.