Past Exhibitions

Yuki Kihara

A Study of a Samoan Savage

29 Aug - 23 Sept 2015

Exhibition Works

Nose Width with Vernier Caliper
Nose Width with Vernier Caliper (2015)
Subnasale-nasal Root Length with Vernier Caliper
Subnasale-nasal Root Length with Vernier Caliper (2015)
Bicep with Skinfold Caliper
Bicep with Skinfold Caliper (2015)
Subscapular with Skinfold Caliper
Subscapular with Skinfold Caliper (2015)
Front, Side and Back View with Stadiometer
Front, Side and Back View with Stadiometer (2015)
Front View with Stadiometer - Triptych Part 1
Front View with Stadiometer - Triptych Part 1 (2015)
Side View with Stadiometer - Triptych Part 2
Side View with Stadiometer - Triptych Part 2 (2015)
Back View with Stadiometer - Triptych Part 3
Back View with Stadiometer - Triptych Part 3 (2015)
Head with Pelvimeter
Head with Pelvimeter (2015)
Siva (Dance)
Siva (Dance) (2015)
Sprinting
Sprinting (2015)
Walking I
Walking I (2015)
Maui Descending a Staircase I (After Duchamp)
Maui Descending a Staircase I (After Duchamp) (2015)
Kicking
Kicking (2015)
Leaping
Leaping (2015)
Walking II
Walking II (2015)
Maui Descending a Staircase II (After Duchamp)
Maui Descending a Staircase II (After Duchamp) (2015)

Exhibition Text

The new series, A Study of a Samoan Savage, is comprised of two broad themes – the histories of motion photography and anthropometry - explored together.

Presented in film noir cinematographic spirit, this powerful, allegorical series features a mythical character (Maui), a Polynesian demi-god performing a variety of movements, documented as ‘motion-photography.’

These movements explicitly reference rugby and the furore in April 2012 surrounding Pat Lam and the Blues rugby team, historical representations of Samoan men, Samoan cultural dances and the study of human movement through photography seen in the pioneering works of Muybridge and Marey.

The historical role of photography and the key role it played in establishing classifications in the study of race, gender, the human body, the science of movement and human evolution is everywhere evidenced in A Study of a Samoan Savage. Collectively, Samoan men were depicted as exotic savages, fetishized as a subject and as an object, colonised and treated as commodities.

Anthropologists used photography as a tool to establish a systematic process of collecting data and thereby propound various scientific theories, such as the existence of racial hierarchy, the enduring myth of Aryan superiority and Eugenics. However those measuring systems and associated photographic techniques in turn became a primary means of subjugation.

Layers of symbolic meaning in Maui’s performances also draw upon the 19th century Samoan colonial experience of the human zoo, the ‘Volkerschau,’ popular then in Germany and Europe, a form of exotic entertainment and colonial theatre where Samoan men’s athleticism and prowess was presented as if in their primitive state. A giant man-made water slide featuring Samoan bodies ascending and descending it was also presented within the zoo.

This 19th century circumstance provides another of the conceptual threads of the series. It is explicitly acknowledged in two works, the photographic work Maui Descending a Staircase I (After Duchamp) and the silent video work Maui Descending a Staircase II (After Duchamp). Both works reference Duchamp’s A Nude Descending a Staircase II (1915) and reprise Muybridge’s use of sequential motion.

The video work is all at once breath-taking, captivating and beguiling. It reveals multiple layers of narrative content, as well as numerous art, political and social dialogues with distinct developments, on from the critically acclaimed Siva in Motion (2012), in Kihara’s signature stylistic techniques: repetitive fragmentation, outline and overlay with a directness of gaze that – inevitably – elicits then seduces the viewer’s participation.


NB: The artist's concept outline can be read in full in the exhibition catalogue, which can be viewed below, or downloaded here:

YUKI KIHARA Samoan Savage CATALOGUE 2015
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exhibition catalogue

 

video preview



Maui Descending a Staircase II (After Duchamp) (2015), single channel digital video, silent, 6 min 9 sec

Please note: This full length preview has been altered from its original portrait format for website presentation only

Exhibition Views