In her first artistic engagement with Te Ao Māori, Yuki Kihara: Te Taenga Mai o Salome sees the artist embodying the figure of Salome in the region of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Hawke’s Bay.
Salome comes to life from an 1886 portrait photograph of a Sāmoan woman wearing a Victorian mourning dress, which the photographer titled Samoan half caste. In a re-assertion of her own agency and identity, this enigmatic figure takes on the name Salome and resumes control of her narrative. No longer a fixed object of the viewer’s gaze, she traverses time and space, directing our attention to scenes of layered significance.
Having previously visited sites across her homeland of Sāmoa, Salome arrives in Heretaunga to continue her contemplation of Paul Gauguin’s fundamental questions: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?
These lead her to explore ancestral and contemporary links between tangata whenua o Aotearoa and tagata o le Moana: from the local knowledge that tells of the sacred waka Takitimu being built in Sāmoa many generations before carrying the ancestors of Ngāti Kahungunu to Aotearoa, to parallel struggles within and against colonisation.