Yuki Kihara
Photo by Scott Lowe. Courtesy of Yuki Kihara and Milford Galleries Dunedin

Yuki Kihara’s Biography

Interdisciplinary Artist
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.

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 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 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The British Museum and Giorgio Armani to name a few.

Kihara’s works has 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, University of Otago which toured several institutions across New Zealand between from 2013 till 2015.

Kihara is a recipient of many awards, among others, Creative New Zealand Innovation and Excellence Award (2009); Goethe Institute (2011), United Nations Women (2014) and Asia New Zealand Foundation (2014) to name a few.

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 Theater, Berlin touring several venues across Europe. Roller & Kihara are currently developing a major new dance production presented in Europe in 2020.

As a curator, Kihara curated the itineric, touring solo exhibition of artist & scholar Katerina Teaiwa entitled Project Banaba (2017) first commissioned by Carriageworks Sydney. Project Banaba is currently presented at MTG Hawke’s Bay Tai Ahuriri. 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.

Kihara is the recipient of Thonelaar van Raalte Research Fellowship (2017 - 2020) awarded by the National Museums of World Cultures in The Netherlands. Kihara is currently producing new works commissioned by The National Museums of World Cultures presented in 2020.

First Impressions: Paul Gauguin (2018) – a 5 episodic talk show series written & directed by Yuki 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. The exhibition will tour the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in 2020.

Kihara most recently presented her keynote address at a major international conference entitled Asian Indigenous Relations in Contemporary Art held at Concordia University in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal).

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 & USA co-edited by Kihara and Dan Taulapapa McMullin published by Little Island Press. The research for this publication was supported by Creative New Zealand in 2008.

In 2019 The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa announce Kihara as New Zealand’s artist for the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia presented in 2021.

Milestones & Awards