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Yuki Kihara : Installation of A Song about Samoa-Fanua showing in Dunedin, New Zealand

Exhibition until 20 April 2021 at the Milford Gallery, in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand


     

Samoa Fauna (Land) joins Samoa Vasa (Ocean), previously displayed at the gallery, each containing a series of five illustrated kimonos as canvasses for Yuki Kihara’s ideas. A further two series of kimonos are planned to join the first two.


7 Avril 2021 - 17:15

Yuki Kihara, cropped portrait © Scott Lowe
Yuki Kihara, cropped portrait © Scott Lowe

More about Yuki Kihara

Yuki Kihara who is New Zealand’s 2022 Venice Biennale representative - is an interdisciplinary artist of Japanese and Samoan descent. Born in Samoa in 1975 of a Japanese father and Samoan mother, she moved to Wellington, New Zealand at the age of 15 to further her education like many Pacific islanders. For the past ten years, Western Samoa is home-base despite her travelling widely across the globe.

Yuki regards herself as belonging to the third gender called fa’afafine in Samoa. Kihara, across a range of media, including photography, performance and video, has built a comprehensive body of work and curatorial practice that examines gender roles, consumerism, climate change and past, present and future societal issues from colonial and post-colonial perspectives. During her studies, she won sponsorship from various New Zealand and international organizations to further her research.

The photographic series Where do we come from ? What are we ? Where are we going ? uses setting and character to make pointed allusions to the social, religious, economic and political issues facing Western Samoa in particular, and the Pacific at large. Kihara “unpacks the myth” of her country as an untouched Pacific paradise seen through the eyes of colonial powers and tourist photographs. Kihara was referring to the famous painting by Paul Gauguin (1897-1898) with the same title which is found in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and points to the fact that according to the painter, Polynesian culture was losing its original cultural significance.
 

Melding both Japanese and Samoan Textile traditions

Yuki Kihara, Installation Samoa Uta Fanua, 2021, Dunedin © Yuki Kihara and Mitford Gallery Dunedin, photography Glenn Frei
Yuki Kihara, Installation Samoa Uta Fanua, 2021, Dunedin © Yuki Kihara and Mitford Gallery Dunedin, photography Glenn Frei
Later Kihara’s attention was drawn to the brown, everyday kimono worn by her Japanese grand-mother Masako Kihara when she discovered it in storage. The hue of the silk resembled natural dyes used in the Samoan traditional ‘siapo’ or barkcloth. Kihara began conceiving a kimono using siapo barkcloth. Yuki delved into the history of textile manufacture, visiting museums in Japan and New Zealand to deepen her knowledge about textiles, and also consulting a renowned siapo textile artist in Samoa.

Gradually a plan to include several of these novel kimonos as canvasses for her ideas about the ocean and landscape of Samoa began to form. The idea of Samoa no uta or a song about Samoa in four stages of installations of five kimonos began to unfurl. Kihara involved her extended family on Samoa to work on these colourful kimonos on siapo cloth expressing her feelings which also involved motifs from kimonos.

Siapo barkcloth is fabricated from the bark of the paper-mulberry trees which grew from cuttings brought over from South-East Asia centuries ago. Traditionally men tended the trees, while women fabricated the bark-cloth which was shaped into clothing worn by Samoan nobility, although the textiles were also used for every-day purposes, and as exchange gifts. Kihara herself also dances in swirling robes in performances to express the heritage of both Japanese and Samoan cultural traditions.


Yuki Kihara, still from video performance 'Siva in Motion' (2012), collection of Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand © Yuki Kihara and Mitford Galleries, Dunedin, New Zealand
Yuki Kihara, still from video performance 'Siva in Motion' (2012), collection of Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand © Yuki Kihara and Mitford Galleries, Dunedin, New Zealand

Yuki Kihara’s work across the Globe

In 2008, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presented a solo exhibition of Kihara’s work entitled Living Photographs, held at the Lila Aches Wallace Wing in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, featuring highlights of her interdisciplinary art practice. The Museum acquired her works for their permanent collection. Kihara’s work can also be found in national and international collections worldwide.

Currently Kihara is exhibited around the globe, including What a Genderful World, Touring exhibition of the National Museum of World Cultures, the Netherlands at the Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam until May 2021 ; Climat Océan, Joint Exhibition between Musée Maritime de la Rochelle and Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, La Rochelle, France, until Oct 2021 ; A Sea of Islands, Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden, The Netherlands, until 2022 ; Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceani, Group Exhibition at Christchurch Art gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, until April 2022, Aotearoa New Zealand ; Paul Gauguin – Why are You Angry ?, Group exhibition at The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, until May 2021, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Detail of kimono from the series Vasa (Ocean)

Yuki Kihara, first kimono from the series Samoa no uta (Vasa - Ocean) 2019 © Yuki Kihara and Mitford Galleries, Dunnedin, Auckland
Yuki Kihara, first kimono from the series Samoa no uta (Vasa - Ocean) 2019 © Yuki Kihara and Mitford Galleries, Dunnedin, Auckland



Mots-clés de l'article : new-zealand, samoa, yuki kihara

Kunang Helmi-Picard
Fatma Kunang Helmi was born in Yogjakarta, Indonesia. Education in Switzerland, Australia and... En savoir plus sur cet auteur




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