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Yuki Kihara. Photo: Arts Council of New Zealand.
Yuki Kihara. Photo: Arts Council of New Zealand.

Yuki Kihara to Represent New Zealand at 2021 Venice Biennale

The Arts Council of New Zealand announced yesterday that the Japanese Samoan artist Yuki Kihara will represent the country at the Fifty-Ninth Venice Biennale. The news marks the first pavilion announcement for the forthcoming edition, and the first time an artist of Pacific descent has been selected for the New Zealand pavilion.

“The glass ceiling has been shattered, Kihara said. “This moment is so much bigger than me, especially for the Pacific art community.”

Kihara’s interdisciplinary practice spans photography, video, and performance and refers to histories of colonialism and their ongoing legacies in Pacific communities; geographical and cultural displacement; and contemporary conceptions of gender, race, and spirituality. The artist has exhibited her work at the Asia Pacific Triennial (2015); the Honolulu Biennial (2017); and the Bangkok Art Biennale (2018). In 2008, she staged a solo show, “Living Photographs,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and in 2020 she will present the solo exhibition “Going Native” at the Tropemuseum in Amsterdam. Kihara’s work can be found in the collections of Queensland Art Gallery in Queensland, Australia; the British Museum in London; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Met.

Natalie King, an editor and fellow at Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, will curate the pavilion. King previously curated Tracey Moffatt’s Australian pavilion presentation at the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale and is working on an exhibition for the 2020 Tokyo Cultural Olympiad.

Creative New Zealand will fund the country’s 2021 pavilion with a financial commitment of $506,400 over the next two years. The country’s current exhibition at the Biennale, Dane Mitchell’s “Post Hoc,” is on view through November 24.