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Yuki Kihara photo by Gui Taccetti

Yuki Kihara’s Biography

Last Updated:
14/02/2024, 1:16 pm
Interdisciplinary Artist
Arts Foundation Laureate 2020, New Generation 2012
Yuki Kihara is an artist and independent curator who is interested in ways that art, performance and the public interact and prompt discussions towards the understanding the complexities of humanity.

2020 Arts Foundation Laureate receiving the My Art Visual Arts Award

A native of Sāmoa, Yuki Kihara is an interdisciplinary artist whose work seeks to challenge dominant and singular historical narratives through visual arts, dance, and curatorial practice, engaging with postcolonial history and representation in Oceania and how they intersect with race, gender, spirituality, ecology and sexual politics.

In 2008, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presented a solo exhibition of Kihara’s work entitled Living Photographs 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 the collections, among others, including the Wallace Ars Foundation, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, British Museum, and Giorgio Armani to name a few.

Kihara’s works have been presented at the Asia Pacific Triennale (2002 & 2015), Auckland Triennale (2009), Sakahàn Quinquennial (2013), Daegu Photo Biennale (2014), Honolulu Biennale (2017), and Bangkok Art Biennale (2018). In addition, Kihara’s works has been presented, among others, at Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai; Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre; Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan; Raw Material Company, Dakar; Goodman Gallery, Cape Town; Bozar Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne; National Museum of Poznan, Poland; Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Norway; Centro Ricerca Arte Attuale, Verbania; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, USA; Orange County Museum of Art, USA; Allen Memorial Museum of Art, USA; Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; 4A Center for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney; Campbelltown Arts Center, Sydney; Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne; Auckland Art Gallery Toi I Tamaki; Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū; City Gallery Wellington; Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand; and the National University of Sāmoa to name a few.

In 2012, Kihara was the recipient of the New Generation Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand and subsequently won the Paramount Award of the 21st Annual Wallace Art Awards in the same year. In the following year, Kihara’s practice was the subject of a mid-career survey exhibition entitled Undressing the Pacific (2013) curated by the Hocken Collections, the University of Otago which toured several institutions across New Zealand from 2013 till 2015.

In 2015, Kihara collaborated as artistic co-director alongside Berlin-based Choreographer Jochen Roller on a dance production entitled Them and Us which premiered at Sophiensaele Theatre, Berlin touring several venues across Europe.

Kihara is currently curating the itineric, touring solo exhibition of scholar and artist Katerina Teaiwa entitled Project Banaba (2017). Project Banaba explores the little-known mining history in Banaba Island part of the Republic of Kiribati in the Central Pacific; and the resilience of Banabans against imperial interests. Project Banaba was first commissioned by Carriageworks Sydney (2017) followed by MTG Hawke’s Bay Tai Ahuriri (2019); and will be presented at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Art Gallery in 2021.

Kihara is currently a research fellow at the National Museums of World Cultures in The Netherlands, a position she has held since 2017. A new work commissioned by The National Museums of World Cultures will be presented in Amsterdam in 2021.

First Impressions: Paul Gauguin (2018) – a five episodic talk show series written and directed by Kihara commissioned by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen was presented in conjunction with a major exhibition entitled Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey presented at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco in 2019. The exhibition will tour the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in 2020.

A publication entitled Sāmoan Queer Lives featuring 14 autobiographical chapters from Fa’afafine & LGBTIQ Sāmoans based in Sāmoa, Amerika Sāmoa, Australia, Aotearoa NZ, Hawai’i and USA co-edited by Yuki and Dan Taulapapa McMullin is published by Little Island Press. The proceeds from Sāmoan Queer Lives are donated to Fa’afafine organizations in Sāmoa and American Sāmoa.

In 2019 The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa announced Yuki as New Zealand’s artist for the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia presented in 2022.

Current projects include:

What a genderful world

Touring exhibition of The National Museums of World Cultures, The Netherlands

24 Sep 2020 – 31 May 2021 | Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam



Climat Océan

9 Nov 2019 – 31 Oct 2021

Joint exhibition between Musee Maritime de La Rochelle and Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, La Rochelle



A Sea of Islands

21 Feb 2020 - 2022

Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden

The Netherlands


Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania

April 2020 – April 2022

Group exhibition | Christchurch Art gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

Aotearoa New Zealand


Milestones & Awards