The title of Yuki Kihara’s new body of work, Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?, is lifted from a large-scale painting by Paul Gauguin completed in 1897 shortly before he died in Tahiti. Kihara uses these questions to frame her examination of Samoan culture and society following the tsunami of 2009, last year’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of Samoa’s independence and, most recently, the destruction caused by Cyclone Evan. Taking inspiration from a late 19th-century photograph Samoan Half Caste by New Zealand photographer Thomas Andrew, Kihara dons a Victorian mourning dress and appears as her alter-ego ‘Salome’ photographed in selected locations across Upolu island Samoa that are pointed allusions to the social, religious, economic and political issues the artist wishes to highlight. Referencing the staged photographic postcards of the ‘South Seas’, Salome’s lone figure stands as silent witness to scenes of political, historical and cultural importance in present-day Samoa. She turns the camera on her country’s colonial past, the impact of burgeoning globalisation, ideas of indigeneity and the role of government in an independent Samoa. Kihara “unpacks the myth” of her country as an untouched Pacific paradise as seen through the eyes of colonial powers and tourist photographs.
A native of Samoa, Yuki Kihara is an interdisciplinary artist whose work has been presented at Asia- Pacific Triennial; Auckland Triennial and the Sakahàn Quinquennial. Kihara’s first solo museum exhibition in North America entitled Yuki Kihara; Living Photographs (2008-09) was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York following the acquisition of her works by the museum for their permanent collection. Kihara’s works and performances has also been shown internationally at de Young Museum, San Francisco; Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia; Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand; Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai; Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan; National Museum of Poznan, Warsaw; Centro Ricerca Arte Attuale, Italy; Rautenstrauch Joest Museum, Colonge; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; Trodheim Kunstmuseum, Norway and National Gallery of Canada. Kihara’s most recent mid-career survey exhibition entitled Undressing the Pacific presented at the Hocken Library will tour several NZ institutions throughout 2013/2014 organized by the University of Otago, NZ. A publication on Kihara’s work is currently being edited by art historian Erika Wolf.
Residents from New Zealand
I-Chen Kuo works primarily on interactive units, single-channel videos and performance art. Drawn by the ever-shifting relationship between humans and the environment, his pieces play on the comfort and suffocation produced by our immediate surroundings and re-interpret the dependence and anxiety of modern-day dwellers towards institutional cages. In 2005, Kuo became the youngest artist ever to represent Taiwan in the Venice Biennial; his works have since been shown in various international exhibitions.
Residents from Taiwan
Bernard Williams embraces a range of formats for the expression of his interests and concerns. The artist investigates the complexities of American history and culture through painting, sculpture, and installation. Within these broad arenas, the work seeks a kind of open-ended dialogue, addressing identity, flattening hierarchies, and questioning who we are collectively. Risk, adventure, conquest, personal status, privilege, and mechanical development are some of the thematic concepts which are pushed into form.
Bernard Williams (born 1964) is a native of Chicago. He holds a BFA from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an MFA from Northwestern University. He also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Williams has taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has completed numerous residencies around the United States. In 2009, a large temporary outdoor sculpture was mounted at Socrates Sculpture Park in New York. In 2013, Williams designed and installed two large temporary outdoor sculptures at the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis. A permanent steel sculpture is currently under installation in Chicago.