Yuki Kihara

Coconuts That Grew From Concrete
May 18 - July 15, 2017
Opening Thursday May 18, 6pm


Yuki KhiharaYuki Kihara, Odalisque (After Boucher), 2017, from the series 'Coconuts that grew from concrete'.


Artspace presents a new body of work from Yuki Kihara, of Japanese and Samoan heritage, focusing on her handmade and digital collage works including a site-specific installation in the main gallery. The exhibition brings a selection of digital collages and experimentations with industrial printing techniques, all recently produced by the artist while in Samoa. Borrowing photographic images from public archives and private collections, the artist juxtaposes these iconic postures with classical examples of the Western gaze, pulling from the established canon of ‘exotic’ or ‘orientalist’ imagery. Kihara’s strategy is to destabilise this canon; the colonial subject as an object of desire finds itself in an intersection between portraiture and landscape. The collages are installed within a spectrum of the Samoan landscape, what is conceived of as both the projection of an escapist paradise and also a dystopian reality.


"The title of my exhibition is adapted from the poem 'Roses That Grew From Concrete' by poet and rapper 2pac (otherwise known as Tupac Shakur) which describes the experience of persevering in the face of tyranny. The exhibition title also plays on the contradictory use of ‘coconuts’: on one hand as a derogatory term, often directed at Pacific migrants living in urban concrete jungles in the diaspora. From a Samoan perspective however, coconuts are seen as a prized fruit able to drift across the ocean and take root in new lands, providing sustenance to new communities. The series examines the intersecting legacies between Samoan colonial photographs and traditional Western European portraiture, and how they shape our present realities." (Excerpt from Artist statement)


Yuki Kihara is one of New Zealand's leading interdisciplinary artists whose work explores the varying relationships and intersections between gender, race, sexuality, culture and politics. Kihara’s work has been presented at the Asia Pacific Triennial (2002 & 2015); Metropolitan Museum of Art (Solo exhibition, 2008); Auckland Triennial (2009); Sakahàn Quinquennial (2013); Daegu Photo Biennial (2014); and the Honolulu Biennial (2017). Kihara’s work has also been exhibited at the Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai; Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan; Bozar Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Musée du Quai Branly, Paris; Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Norway; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, USA; de Young Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, USA; Orange County Museum of Art, USA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA; Allen Memorial Art Museum, USA; Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane and Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand among others. Her recent dance production 'Them and Us' (2015) co-directed with Jochen Roller (Berlin) premiered at Sophiensaele Theatre, Berlin and then toured several theatre venues across Europe. 


Kihara is currently a Fellow at the Research Centre for Material Culture awarded by the National Museum of Material Cultures, Netherlands. 


Solo exhibitions from Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Shannon Te Ao, and Yuki Kihara take place within the framework of “Singular Pluralities ∞ Plural Singularities”, a series of solo exhibitions which began in 2015. Focusing on artistic research and exhibition methodology, the series experiments with installation strategies, and event structures. 


Thanks to Milford Galleries Dunedin.