In 2022, Paradise Camp garnered international acclaim at the Aotearoa New Zealand pavilion at the 59th La Biennale di Venezia. In 2023, the Australian premiere includes new works created by Kihara created in response to the Powerhouse Museum’s Collection.
An interdisciplinary artist of Japanese and Samoan descent, Yuki Kihara’s work interrogates and dismantles gender roles, (mis)representation and colonial legacies in the Pacific. She was the first Pasifika, Asian and Fa’afafine (Samoa’s ‘third gender’) artist to represent Aotearoa New Zealand at La Biennale di Venezia.
Yuki Kihara is currently undertaking a creative residency at the Powerhouse, creating new works in response to the museum’s collection.
Kihara drew on the museum’s extensive collection of over 2,900 glass plate negatives by 19th Century Australian Photographer Charles Kerry to create the collage Gauguin Landscapes, melding photographs of shorelines and river scenes taken of the Samoan archipelago with landscape paintings by Gauguin.
“I am honoured to have taken up residence at the Powerhouse Museum and delve into the colonial photographs of Samoa and integrate these depictions into my fa’afafine utopia from distinctly Pasifika perspective. I have started working with Harold Samu from the Sydney drag community towards a new commission in August, so stay tuned,” said artist Yuki Kihara.
Paradise Camp also comprises 12 photographs featuring a cast and crew of 100 people in S?moa, repurposing and upcycling Gauguin paintings. Reflecting on the injuries of colonialism and patriarchal structures by presenting a renewed worldview that is open, inclusive and humorous, each image has a depth of meaning related to the impact of colonialism on the Fa’afafine community and Western misconceptions of the Pacific.
The exhibition features First Impressions: Paul Gauguin – a five-part talk-show series comprising a group of Fa’afafine commenting wittily on select Gauguin paintings.
‘Varchive’ – a term coined by Kihara that uses the Samoan concept of Va to describe her relationship with her archive of research – includes personal research, rare books by 19th century explorers, colonial portraits, pamphlets, news items, a geological sculpture and activist material to provide never-before-seen visual links between Gauguin and Samoa.
“Following on from presenting Paradise Camp to 485,079 visitors at the Venice Biennale, it’s timely to exhibit Kihara’s ensemble exhibition in Sydney with its focus on some of the most urgent issues of our times including intersectionality, small island ecologies and environmental crises,” said curator Professor Natalie King OAM.
“Powerhouse is thrilled to present the Australian premiere of Paradise Camp. Yuki Kihara is an important international artist and this exhibition will not only connect audiences with the Powerhouse collection in new ways but connect us with the Pacific and its many social and cultural issues,” said Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah.
A companion publication has been published by Thames & Hudson, edited by Natalie King, featuring international commissions exploring the interwoven strands running through Kihara’s Paradise Camp with contributions from Coco Fusco, Patrick Flores and Ngahuia te Awekotuku.
Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo
Exhibition continues to December 2023
For more information, visit: www.maas.museum for details.
Image: Varchive, artwork by Yuki Kihara – photo by Zan Wimberley