Looking Back at Samoa: History, Memory, and the Figure of Mourning in Yuki Kihara’s Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

in Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas
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Samoan Japanese artist Yuki Kihara’s photographic series Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (2013) focuses on sites of current and historical significance in Samoa. In taking on the title of French artist Paul Gauguin’s 1897 work, Kihara signals her desire to engage with the history of representation of the Pacific in Western art through dialogue with Gauguin and the history of colonial photography. Casting herself as a version of Thomas Andrew’s Samoan Half Caste (1886), a figure in Victorian mourning dress, she directs the viewer’s gaze and invites all to share her acts of mourning at these sites. The literal meaning of the title also indicates how the series engages with history via the Samoan concept of , collapsing time in space, to produce an understanding of both the country’s present and the potential future such history invites.

Looking Back at Samoa: History, Memory, and the Figure of Mourning in Yuki Kihara’s Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

in Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

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References

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4

Adam Gifford“Shigeyuki Kihara: A Lament for the Lost,” New Zealand Herald8 September 2012 accessed 15 October 2015.

7

Pamela Rosi“Shigeyuki Kihara: Subverting Dusky Maidens and Exotic Tropes of Pacific Paradise,” ArtAsiaPacific 51 (2007): 72.

8

Linda Tyler“From the Collection,” The University of Auckland News for StaffApril 2014.

10

Yuki Kihara“Artist Statement,” Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? Milford Gallery 2013.

13

Caroline Vercoe“I Am My Other, I Am My Self: Encounters With Gauguin in Polynesia,” The Australasian and New Zealand Journal of Art 13 no. 1 (2013): 113.

15

Whitney Tassie“Shigeyuki Kihara,” Salt 8 (2013) accessed 8 January 2016.

16

Lisa Taouma“Gauguin Is Dead … There Is No Paradise,” Journal of Intercultural Studies 25 no. 1 (2004).

17

Sia FigielWhere We Once Belonged (Auckland: Pasifika Press1996) 187.

18

 Quoted in Deborah A. Elliston“Geographies of Gender and Politics: The Place of Difference in Polynesian Nationalism,” Cultural Anthropology 15 no. 2 (2000): 171–2.

19

Albert BoimeRevelation of Modernism: Responses to Cultural Crises in Fin-de-Siècle Painting (Columbia: University of Missouri Press2008) 135.

20

Vercoe“I Am My Other I Am My Self” 120.

25

Alexander SpoehrMajuro: A Village in the Marshall Islands (Chicago: Chicago Natural History Museum1949) 59. In slight contradiction to this Spennemann claims that only finger tattoos were signs of high status in women and hand tattoos were more common. Samoan Half Caste appears only to wear hand (not finger) tattoos but her bearing marks her status if nothing else. Dirk H. R. Spennemann Tattooing in the Marshall Islands (Honolulu: Bess 2009) 68–69.

26

Gerd Hardach“Defining Separate Spheres: German Rule and Colonial Law in Micronesia,” in European Impact and Pacific Influence: British and German Colonial Policy in the Pacific Islands and the Indigenous Responseed. H. J. Hiery and J. M. MacKenzie (London: ib Taurus 1997) 231–32.

27

Francis X. HezelStrangers in Their Own Land (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press1995) 45.

29

Maia Nuku“Standing on the Edge of the Abyss: Shigeyuki Kihara, Catalyst for Change,” Broadsheet 44 no. 3 (2016): 10.

30

Nina Seja“The Past Is a Foreign Climate: Shigeyuki Kihara Meets the Anthropocene,” Art Monthly 285 (2015): 32.

31

Paul J. Crutzen“The ‘Anthropocene,’” in Earth System Science in the Anthropocene: Emerging Issues and Problemsed. Eckart Ehlers and Thomas Krafft (Berlin: Springer2006) 13–18.

32

P. J. Webster et al.“Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment,” Science 309 no. 5742 (2005): 1846.

33

Lucy Thackray“Death Toll in Fiji Rises to 44 With a 10-Month-Old Baby Among Those Presumed Dead After Catastrophic Cyclone Winston Tore Through the Country Wiping Out Whole Village,” Daily Mail Australia25 February 2016 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3463347/Death-toll-Fiji-rises-44-10-month-old-baby-presumed-dead-catastrophic-Cyclone-Winston-tore-country-wiping-village.html.

34

Seja“The Past Is a Foreign Climate” 32.

35

Sonia Altizer et al.“Climate Change and Infectious Diseases: From Evidence to a Predictive Framework,” Science 341 no. 6145 (2013): 514–519.

36

Natalie Poland“Undressing the Pacific,” Shigeyuki Kihara: Undressing the Pacific. A Mid-Career Survey Exhibition (Dunedin: Hocken Collections 2013) 5.

37

George Herbert RydenThe Foreign Policy of the United States in Relation to Samoa (New Haven: Yale University Press1933) 551.

38

Malama MeleiseaMaking of Modern Samoa: Traditional Authority and Colonial Administration in the History of Western Samoa (Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies of the University of the South Pacific1987) 40.

41

Alison Nordström“Paradise Recycled: Photographs of Samoa in Changing Contexts,” Exposure 28 no. 3 (1991–92): 6–15.

42

Max Quanchi“The Imaging of Samoa in Illustrated Magazines and Serial Encyclopaedias in the Early 20th-Century,” The Journal of Pacific History 41 no. 2 (2006): 207–217.

43

Poland“Undressing the Pacific” 5.

45

Nuku“Standing on the Edge of the Abyss” 10.

46

Albert L. Refiti“How the Tā-Vā Theory of Reality Constructs a Spatial Exposition of ­Samoan Architecture,” Heretic Papers in Pacific Thoughtalrx01-2013 http://www.academia.edu/3570169/How_the_Ta_-Va_theory_of_reality_constructs_a_spatial_­exposition_of_Samoan_architecture.

48

Vercoe“I Am My Other I Am Myself” 113.

50

Poland“Undressing the Pacific” 6.

52

Nuku“Standing on the Edge of the Abyss” 10.

53

Lanuola Tufufia and Jason Brown“Lalomanu Residents in Samoa Remember 2009 Tsunami,” Pacific Islands Report. From Samoa Observer 30 September 2013 accessed 14 September 2015 http://www.pidp.org/pireport/2013/October/10-01-05.htm.

54

Mandy Treagus“Crossing the Beach: Samoa, Stevenson and ‘The Beach at Falesa’,” ­Literature Compass 11 no. 5 (2014): 312–320.

55

Serge Tcherkézoff“A Reconsideration of the Role of Polynesian Women in Early ­Encounters with Europeans: Supplement to Marshall Sahlins’ Voyage around the Islands of History,” in Oceanic Encounters: Exchange Desire Violence ed. Margaret Jolly et al. ­(Canberra: Australian National University Press2009) 114.

56

 See Anne SalmondAphrodite’s Island: The European Discovery of Tahiti (Berkeley: ­University of California Press2009); Tcherkézoff “A Reconsideration” 113–159.

57

Tracey Banivanua MarViolence and Colonial Dialogue: The Australia-Pacific Labor Trade (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press2007); Jennifer M. Y. Carter Painting the Islands Vermillion: Archibald Watson and the Brig Carl (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press 1999).

58

Graham Balfour Diary 1894Entry: Wednesday 10 August 1892. Item 4 Papers of Graham Balfour ms 9700 Manuscripts (National Library of Scotland).

59

Treagus“Crossing the Beach” 312–320.

61

Daniel Michael Satele“Shigeyuki Kihara: Dark Angel of History,” Tautai June (2013) accessed 14 September 2015 https://issuu.com/tautaipacificartstrust/docs/tautai_june_2013_web_pdf?workerAddress=ec2-54-227-15-98.compute-1.amazonaws.com 1.

64

Nuku“Standing on the Edge of the Abyss” 10.

Figures

  • View in gallery

    Thomas Andrews, Samoan Half Caste, from the album Views in the Pacific Islands, 1886, 10 cm × 9.5 cm, black and white photograph, albumen silver print. The Thomas Andrews Collection. Gift of Thomas & Edith Gillan, 1994. cc-by-nc-nd licence, Te Papa (al.000266), 1994.

  • View in gallery

    Yuki Kihara, After Cyclone Evan, Lelata, from the series Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, 2013, 595 × 840 mm, Black and White photograph, c-print. Courtesy of the Artist and Milford Galleries Dunedin, New Zealand.

  • View in gallery

    Yuki Kihara , Agelu i Tausi Catholic Church After Cyclone Evan, Mulivai Safata, from the series Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, 2013, 595 × 840 mm, Black and White photograph, c-print. Courtesy of the Artist and Milford Galleries Dunedin, New Zealand.

  • View in gallery

    Yuki Kihara, Mau Headquarters, Vaimoso, from the series Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, 2013, 595 × 840 mm, Black and White photograph, c-print. Courtesy of the Artist and Milford Galleries Dunedin, New Zealand.

  • View in gallery

    Yuki Kihara, Departure, Faleolo International Airport, from the series Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, 2013, 595 × 840 mm, Black and White photograph, c-print. Courtesy of the Artist and Milford Galleries Dunedin, New Zealand.

  • View in gallery

    Yuki Kihara, After Tsunami Galu Afi, Lalomanu, from the series Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, 2013, 595 × 840 mm, Black and White photograph, c-print. Courtesy of the Artist and Milford Galleries Dunedin, New Zealand.

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