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Studio International: Yuki Kihara on Paradise Camp

Yuki Kihara. Photo: Luke Walker

The artist, who is of mixed Japanese and Samoan heritage, talks about showcasing queer rights and revealing the toxic influence of colonialism in her works.

The artist Yuki Kihara (b1975), who is of Japanese and Samoan descent, brought some tropical sunshine and more than a flash of gender political heat into the gloomy depths of Venice’s Arsenale, with a presentation that foregrounds queer rights, small island ecologies and decolonisation, among other hot topics.

As the first artist to represent New Zealand in Venice who identifies as Pasifika, Asian and fa’afafine (Samoan for someone who is born male but presents “in the manner of a woman”), Kihara is pulling no punches. Her installation, Paradise Camp, was inspired by an essay by Ngahuia Te Awekotuku that was presented at a Paul Gauguin Symposium in 1992, at the Auckland Art Gallery, drawing attention to the sexual ambiguity of some of the characters so vividly evoked by Gauguin. Kihara has repaid the compliment by staging photos inspired by Gauguin’s Tahiti paintings, using sites and people of Samoan origin, to reflect those similarities and celebrate Gauguin’s recognition of non-western and non-binary beauty.

Read the article in full here on Studio International’s website.