In the Manner of a Woman
Having spent the year taking the art world by storm, New Zealand resident and south-pacific artist Shigejuki Kihara is one of artasiapacific’s “five artists for 2009”. Kihara, a Japanese Samoan made a name for herself in New Zealand first as a fashion design student at Massey University, as a recipient for the Creative New Zealand Emerging Pacific Artist award, and then as an artist in residence at the contemporary art space Physics Room in Christchurch. A Fa’a fafine (the Samoan term for third gender), Kihara’s most famous works are the sepia-tint photographs of her Fa’a fafine: In a Manner of a Woman (2004-2005), photos that explore the implications of gender, sexuality, exploitation, and colonialism. Kihara’s self-portraits feature her dressed as an indigenous Pacific Islander, some as a naked woman, and another with her penis exposed. Her work has been exhibited at the Kohsiung Museum of Fine Arts in Taiwan, at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand, at a show she co-curated at the Plimsoll Gallery in Australia, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York during the course of the year. “Kihara’s works bring Pacific island culture to the West, but Kihara also demands that viewers look at her – with her body and face as a synecdoche for Samoan culture at large – on her own terms,” says the almanac. 2009 will bring Kihara back to Auckland with exhibits at the Tauranga Art Gallery and the Toi Rerehiko Moving Image Center in Auckland.