A Study of a Samoan Savage

A Study of a Samoan Savage


Publisher: Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery

Artist: Yuki Kihara

Published to accompany the an exhibition of the same name at Te Uru, A Study of a Samoan Savage responds, in part, to the recent problematic treatment of Polynesian men as powerful but primitive players in Rugby culture. Large format photographs and a life-size projection are displayed alongside rare archives to critique the historical and ongoing fetishising of Samoan men as athletic specimens. Using a sequential photographic process, Kihara subverts the anthropological impulses that objectify, exoticise and eroticise the Pacific male body. The publication includes specially commissioned essays that explore the history of anthropology, anthropometry, photography, colonisation and sporting culture.

Yuki Kihara is one of New Zealand’s leading interdisciplinary artists whose work engages in a variety of social, political and cultural issues. Often referencing Pacific history, her work explores the varying relationships between gender, race, culture and politics. Of Samoan and Japanese heritage, Kihara immigrated to Aotearoa New Zealand from Samoa at the age of sixteen. She trained in Fashion Design and Technology at Wellington Polytechnic (now Massey University) and found early success in her second year of study when Graffiti Dress, 1995 was purchased by Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Since then, Kihara has worked across a wide range of media, including photography, performance and video, while also developing her own curatorial practice.

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