Biennale Arte 2021: New Zealand’s artist and curator announced

16 Sep 2019

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NEWS

Yuki Kihara, New Zealand’s artist for the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.
Yuki Kihara, New Zealand’s artist for the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

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

Yuki is renowned for delving into the complexities of postcolonial histories in the Pacific and interrogating Western misinterpretations from the perspective of Fa’afafine (Samoan for ‘in the manner of a woman’ broadly understood as the LGBTIQ+ in the Western context) community which she belongs to in Sāmoa.

The Arts Council is also pleased to announce Natalie King as the curator for New Zealand’s participation. Currently Enterprise Professor at the University of Melbourne, Natalie has extensive curatorial experience in contemporary art across Australia, Asia-Pacific and Europe. She was the curator of Tracey Moffatt’s acclaimed exhibition for the Australian pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2017.

Arts Council Chair, Michael Moynahan says, “Yuki Kihara will be the first artist of Pacific descent to represent New Zealand at the Biennale Arte. This is a significant moment, not only for Yuki, but for the legacy of the New Zealand presentation.”

“Yuki has built a strong reputation for work that is engaging, visually striking and topical. Her presentation will speak to the shared histories between Aotearoa and the Pacific, illuminating alternative voices through a focus on Yuki’s homeland Sāmoa.”

In response to her official appointment to represent New Zealand at Biennale Arte 2021 Yuki says, “The glass ceiling has been shattered. This moment is so much bigger than me, especially for the Pacific art community. I am humbled by this opportunity and the platform that enables me to further amplify my practice.”

Michael Moynahan has been appointed Commissioner for the Biennale Arte 2021, in compliance with the rules of the Biennale which require Commissioners for official country pavilions to be members of the national governing body. The Commissioner’s role is crucial in supporting the delivery of the exhibition and provides significant ambassadorial support to the project.

Seventeen high-calibre proposals were received for New Zealand’s presentation at the Biennale Arte 2021. They were assessed by a Selection Advisory Panel, chaired by Michael Moynahan.

The Selection Advisory Panel for the Biennale Arte 2021 comprised:

  • Lisa Reihana, NZ artist for the Biennale Arte 2017
  • Karl Chitham, Director, The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt
  • Nina Tonga, Curator Contemporary Art, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington
  • Mami Kataoka, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
  • Dame Jenny Gibbs, New Zealand at Venice Commissioner 2019
  • Leigh Melville, Head of New Zealand at Venice Patrons
  • Christina Barton, Director, Adam Art Gallery, Wellington
  • Remco de Blaaij, Director, Artspace, Auckland
  • Anthony Byrt, Art Critic, Writer and Journalist.

The Biennale Arte is the world’s largest and most prestigious international contemporary art exhibition, attended by key curators, writers and collectors. It opens every two years in early May and runs for approximately six months. It involves more than 80 countries and attracts over 30,000 key international curators, critics, collectors and artists to the three-day Vernissage (preview) period alone.

Creative New Zealand’s financial commitment for the 2021 presentation will be $800,000 over two financial years.

New Zealand has exhibited at the Biennale Arte since 2001. New Zealand artists who have exhibited are: Jacqueline Fraser and Peter Robinson (2001); Michael Stevenson (2003) et al. (2005); Judy Millar and Francis Upritchard (2009); Michael Parekowhai (2011); Bill Culbert (2013); Simon Denny (2015); Lisa Reihana (2017) and Dane Mitchell (2019).

The 2021 announcement follows New Zealand’s highly successful exhibition Post hoc by Dane Mitchell at the Biennale Arte 2019 which attracted widespread international acclaim, and has had 56,263 visitors to date. Post hoc is currently open to the public until 24 November.

Biographies

Artist: Yuki Kihara (Sāmoa/Aotearoa New Zealand)

Photo credit: Scott Lowe.
Photo credit: Scott Lowe

A native of Sāmoa, Yuki Kihara is an interdisciplinary artist of Japanese and Samoan descent whose work seeks to challenge dominant and singular historical narratives through visual arts, dance, and curatorial practice, engaging with postcolonial history and representation in the Pacific and how they intersect with race, gender, spirituality and sexual politics. Yuki lives and works in Sāmoa, where she has been based over the last 10 years.

In 2008, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presented a solo exhibition of Yuki’s work entitled Living Photographs. The exhibition was held at the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing in The Department of Modern and Contemporary Art featuring highlights of her interdisciplinary art practice, followed by an acquisition of her works by the museum for their permanent collection. Yuki’s work can also be found in national and international collections, among others, at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The British Museum and Giorgio Armani to name a few.

Yuki’s work has been presented at The Asia Pacific Triennale (2002 and 2015); Auckland Triennale (2009); Sakahàn Quinquennial (2013); Daegu Photo Biennale (2014); Honolulu Biennale (2017) and The Bangkok Art Biennale (2018). Subsequently, Yuki’s work, performances and projects have been presented, among others, at Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai; Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre; Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan; Bozar Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne; National Museum of Poznan, Poland; Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Norway; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Paris; 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; 4A Centre for Contemporary Asia Art, Sydney, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki; Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū; Artspace; City Gallery Wellington; Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand and The National University of Sāmoa.

In 2015, Yuki collaborated as artistic co-director alongside Berlin-based choreographer Jochen Roller on a dance production entitled Them and Us which premiered at Sophiensaele, Berlin and toured across Germany and Switzerland. Jochen and Yuki are currently working on a new major dance production entitled Crosscurrents which premiers in Germany in 2020. The research and development of Crosscurrents is supported by Kulturstiftung des Bundes.

Yuki is currently a research fellow at The National Museums of World Cultures in The Netherlands, a position she has held since 2017. As a culmination of her fellowship, Yuki will present a solo exhibition entitled Going Native commissioned by The National Museums of World Cultures presented at Tropemuseum, Amsterdam in June 2020.

As a curator, Yuki is currently curating the itineric, touring solo exhibition of artist and scholar Katerina Teaiwa, entitled Project Banaba (2017-) commissioned by Carriageworks Sydney. Project Banaba was recently presented at MTG Hawke’s Bay Tai Ahuriri; and will be touring The Oceania Arts Centre, The University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji opening in November 2020.

A publication entitled Samoan Queer Lives featuring 14 autobiographical chapters from Fa’afafine and LGBTIQ+ Samoans based in Sāmoa, American Sāmoa, Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Hawai’i and Turtle Island, USA, co-edited by Yuki and Dan Taulapapa McMullin published by Little Island Press was officially launched in Apia, Upolu Island, Sāmoa in October 2018 with the support of The New Zealand High Commission.

Selected forthcoming projects include: HERE: Kupe to Cook, Pātaka Art + Museum, 11 August – 23 November 2019, Aotearoa New Zealand; What a genderful world, a touring exhibition of The National Museums of World Cultures, Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, 10 October 2019 – 23 August 2020; Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam, 24 September 2020 – 31 May 2021; Océan Climat, jointly presented at Musee Maritime de La Rochelle and Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, La Rochelle, 9 November 2019 – 31 October 2021, France and -モアのうた (Sāmoa no uta) A song about Sāmoa, Solo Exhibition, 30 November 2019 – 28 January 2020 (preview Friday 29 November 2019), Milford Galleries, Dunedin, Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Yuki is represented by Milford Galleries Dunedin, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Curator: Natalie King (Australia)

Photo credit: Alli Oughtred
Photo credit: Alli Oughtred

Natalie King is a curator, editor and arts leader with more than two decades’ experience in international contemporary art realising projects in India, Indonesia, Japan, Bangladesh, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Italy, Thailand and Vietnam. She is an Enterprise Professorial Fellow, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Currently, she is working towards curation of an exhibition at the Tokyo Museum of Photography as part of the 2020 Tokyo Cultural Olympiad. She is a member of the Metro Tunnel Arts Advisory Panel overseeing the legacy public artworks for the City of Melbourne.

In 2017, she was Curator of Tracey Moffatt: My Horizon, Australian Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, accompanied by a publication that she edited with Thames & Hudson. Natalie has curated exhibitions for the National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta; Singapore Art Museum; the National Museum of Art, Osaka; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia; Adam Art Gallery, Wellington and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, amongst others.

She has conducted in-depth interviews with Ai Wei Wei, Pussy Riot, Candice Breitz, Joseph Kosuth, Destiny Deacon, Massimiliano Gioni, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Pipilotti Rist, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Vincent Namatjira, Tracey Moffatt, Entang Wiharso, Sally Smart, Bill Henson, Jitish Kallat, Hou Hanru and Cai Guo-Qiang.

She is widely published in arts media including Flash Art International, Art and Australia and ABC television. She has contributed to publications by Phaidon, Thames & Hudson and Routledge. Natalie is a Series Editor with Thames & Hudson for Mini Monograph books. She is President of the Australian chapter of the International Association of Art Critics, Paris and a member of CIMAM International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art. In 2018 she was a finalist in the AFR 100 Women of Influence.


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