Yuki Kihara: Der Papālagi (The White Man) exhibition opens in Australia
19 Oct 2016
The Cairns Regional Gallery, Queensland, Australia is presenting Yuki Kihara’s new body of work entitled Der Papālagi (The White Man), funded by Creative New Zealand. 18 November 2016 – 29 January 2017
Yuki Kihara is an Interdisciplinary artist who was born in Samoa and is of Japanese and Samoan descent. Kihara fuses performance, photography and video to explore themes of Pacific culture, identity, indigenous spirituality, colonialism, stereotypes, gender roles, and consumerism.
The title of this new series comes from a book written by Erich Scheurmann, a German national who lived in Samoa during the German colonial administration of the country (1900 – 1914). Published in 1920, it contains descriptions of European life seen through the eyes of Tuiavii, a Samoan chief. The book was widely criticised however, after it was discovered that Scheurmann had created the character of Tuiavii and that the descriptions were in fact his own social commentary.
Papālagi is used to describe non-Samoans or anything considered not indigenous to Samoa or Samoan culture. Kihara’s most recent work, Der Papālagi (The White Man), is a response to Erich Scheurmann’s book and features a public performance presented as a social experiment in which Christian and Barbara Durst – German migrants who have lived in Samoa for over 24 years “go native”. Dressed in full indigenous Samoan regalia, they make public appearances in five locations in and around the capital city of Apia.
The varied reactions of the public to the couple are captured in video and photographs, and the series raises questions around Samoan nationalism and the politics of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ while exploring the ethical boundaries between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.
In addition to her solo exhibitions presented at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Art Gallery in Auckland and the Orange County Museum of Art in California this year, Yuki Kihara will be participating in the upcoming Honolulu Biennial in March 2017, curated by Fumio Nanjo, Director of the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.
Der Papālagi (The White Man) project received support from the Creative New Zealand Arts Council and the Gallery is the first Australian venue to exhibit.