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?

Mandy Treagus, Madeleine Seys
  • Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, March 2017, Brill
  • DOI: 10.1163/23523085-00302005

How Yuki Kihara’s art series deals with present and past reality in Samoa.

What is it about?

The article is about a photographic series by interdisciplinary artist Yuki Kihara about particular places in Samoa that are of historical significance. The series features a nineteenth century figure who mourns at each site. Events to be mourned include colonial injustices and others caused by climate change.

Why is it important?

Kihara is a significant contemporary artist who will represent New Zealand at the 2021 Venice Biennale. This article draws attention to the way the archival record plays out in the present. It uses the Samoan and Tongan of the va to interpret images from the series.


Mandy Treagus
University of Adelaide

I was pleased to be able to explore the figure Kihara plays in the series, a character based on the photographic image of a nineteenth century woman whom Yuki calls Salome.

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The following have contributed to this page: Mandy Treagus and Madeleine Seys