Image: Installation view of Paradise Camp by Yuki Kihara. Photo by Zan Wimberley.
Powerhouse today unveiled the Australian premiere of Paradise Camp by Yuki Kihara; co-commissioned by Powerhouse and Creative New Zealand, and curated by Professor Natalie King OAM.
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 collection.
An interdisciplinary artist of Japanese and Sāmoan 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 (Sāmoa’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 Sāmoan 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 Sāmoa and integrate these depictions into my fa’afafine utopia from a distinctly Pasifika perspective. I have started working with Harold Samu from the Sydney drag community towards a new commission in August, so stay tuned,” artist Yuki Kihara said.
Paradise Camp also comprises 12 photographs featuring a cast and crew of 100 people in Sāmoa, 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. ‘Vārchive’ – a term coined by Kihara that uses the Sāmoan concept of Vā 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 Sāmoa.
“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,” curator Professor Natalie King OAM said.
“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,” Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah said.
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.
EXHIBITION TOUR AND PANEL DISCUSSION – 24 March 2023
An exhibition tour led by Yuki Kihara and curator Professor Natalie King OAM with Fa’afafine models Liulauulu Faaleolea-ah Fook and Faamanatu Tikeri representing the Aleipata Fa’afafine Association (AFA). The tour will be followed by a panel discussion with guest artists Owen Leong, Gui Taccetti, Latai Taumoepeau and Angela Tiatia.
Yuki Kihara and Matavai Pacific Cultural Arts present a curated Pasifika program featuring dance, music and talks. Presented by Powerhouse Late and VIVID.
Paradise Camp by Yuki Kihara
Curated by Professor Natalie King OAM
24 March 2023 – December 2023
Free, no registration required
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Powerhouse sits at the intersection of arts, design, science and technology and plays a critical role in engaging communities with contemporary ideas and issues. We are undertaking a landmark $1.4 billion infrastructure renewal program, spearheaded by the creation of the flagship museum, Powerhouse Parramatta; expanded research and public facilities at Powerhouse Castle Hill; the renewal of the iconic Powerhouse Ultimo; and the ongoing operation of Sydney Observatory. The museum is custodian to over half a million objects of national and international significance and is considered one of the finest and most diverse collections in Australia. We are also undertaking an expansive digitisation project that will provide new levels of access to Powerhouse collections.