In a first, Yuki Kihara would become the first artist of Pacific descent to be featured in the 2021 Venice Biennale.
While the current edition of Venice Biennale is still going on, some countries have decided to already announce their nomination for the 2021 edition. The most interesting name was put forward by New Zealand, as the country nominated Yuki Kihara. The choice is historic for multiple reasons. Kihara will become the first person of Pacific descent to represent the country at the Biennale. Not just that, but Kihara also identifies herself as fa’afafine (roughly translated to “in the manner of a woman), similar to the LGTBQ+ community in the West. Her nomination serves to signify the progressive tone New Zealand has adapted towards its society in general.
Yuki Kihara’s work has long dealt with issues she closely saw in her life. The primary was the impact of colonialism in New Zealand and the rest of the world. She also worked on issues of gender and sexuality, and how the common misunderstands of the society often affects it. However, this is not the first barrier Kihara broke in her career. In 2008 she was featured solo in Museum of Art exhibition in New York. This was the first time a New Zealander was given a solo exhibition in the museum. Responding to the announcement, Kihara said that a “glass ceiling has been shattered.”
The announcement was made by the Arts Council of New Zealand on Monday. The council also announced that Natalie King would serve as the curator of Kihara’s collection. King, who is a professor at the University of Melbourne, previously curated Tracey Moffat’s collection at the 2017 Venice Biennale. The pavilion commissioner will be Michael Moynahan, who is also the council’s chair. Speaking of Kihara’s collection, Moynahan said it will focus on the “shared histories between Aotearoa and the Pacific, illuminating alternative voices through a focus on Yuki’s homeland Sāmoa.”