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Kihara works picked up by New York Museum

Kihara works picked up by Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Two photographic works by Auckland artist Shigeyuki Kihara have been snapped up by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to join their world-renowned permanent collection.

The works come from Kihara’s 'Fa'a fafine: In a manner of a woman' series, first shown in Sydney in 2005.

In her works, which are both provocative and evocative, Kihara uses photography and a team of technical assistants to transform herself into different personas drawn from Samoan cultural traditions, colonial fantasies of South Seas Belles and her own imagination.

As well as being a visual artist, designer, and curator, Kihara is also a performance artist.

The purchase came about after Dr. Virginia-Lee Webb from the Metropolitan Museum saw a performance by Kihara at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris last July.

“Kihara performed ‘Taualuga: the last dance’. The intensity, beauty, and emotional power of this work is significant” recalls Dr Webb, a research curator from the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the museum.

The ‘Fa’a fafine: In a manner of a woman’ series was originally presented as a solo exhibition at Sherman Galleries, Sydney in 2005. The following year, it was exhibited at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), also in Sydney.

The photographic works were then selected to be part of the Pasifika Styles exhibition – currently showing at the University of Cambridge’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in the UK.

Dr. Webb explains the attraction of Kihara’s work: “I have followed and admired Shigeyuki Kihara’s work for several years. The creativity that Kihara brings to her work is exemplified by an astute synthesis of performance, multiple media, historical images, art history and contemporary art practice“.

Kihara’s work is arguably the first work by a New Zealand Pacific artist to be added to the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The collections hold over two million works of art.

Shigeyuki Kihara’s work is a unique brand of contemporary art – firmly grounded in her Samoan and South Pacific identity and now ready to face the world.


The two works purchased by The Metropolitan Museum are: - Image from triptych: ‘Fa’a fafine: In a manner of a woman’ 2005. - ‘My Samoan Girl’ 2005

2008 Showings of the series ‘Fa’a fafine: In a manner of a woman’:

‘Pasifika Styles’ Group exhibition University of Cambridge Museum Of Archeology & Anthropology, Cambridge, UK May 2006 - March 2008

‘Te Taitaga/Bind Together: Contemporary Art of New Zealand’ Group exhibition Southwest School of Art & Craft, Texas, USA 23 January - 16 March 2008

‘Samoa Contemporary’ Group exhibition Pataka, Porirua, New Zealand 21 February - June 2008

2008 Curatorial Project:

‘Hand in Hand’ Co-curators Jenny Fraser and Shigeyuki Kihara Boomali Aboriginal Artist Co-operative, Sydney, Australia 8 February - 4 March 2008

'Hand in Hand' Co-curators Jenny Fraser and Shigeyuki Kihara Performance Space, Sydney, Australia 16 February - 16 March 2008

Shigeyuki Kihara - Additional notes for media:

Kihara, of Japanese and Samoan parentage, came to New Zealand in 1989. She studied fashion design at Massey University, Wellington. In her second year, her award-winning ‘Graffiti Dress’ 1995, was purchased by New Zealand’s National Museum Te Papa Tongarewa, which also acquired a line of 28 ready-to-wear T-shirts from her first exhibition, ‘Teuanoa’i: Adorn to Excess’ in 2001.

Kihara was the recipient of the Emerging Pacific Artist Award from Creative New Zealand, the Arts Council of New Zealand, in 2003. Since then, Kihara has been exhibiting internationally with solo exhibitions including: ‘Fa’a fafine: In a manner of a woman’, Sherman Galleries, Sydney, 2005; and ‘Vavau: Tales of ancient Samoa’, The Gus Fisher Gallery, University of Auckland, 2006.

Apart from her visual art practice she is a performance artist, performing at: 4th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, 2002; and Haus der kulteren der welt, Berlin 2003 with the Pasifika Divas performance art group. Her solo dance piece entitled ‘Taualuga: the last dance’ was performed at Linden St Kilda Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2006; Musee du Quai Branly, Paris, 2007; and Boomalli Aboriginal Artist Co-operative, Sydney 2008.


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