Yuki Kihara’s ‘A Song about Samoa サーモアについてのうた’: Reimagining the Pacific through Japanese Relations
Keywords:Yuki Kihara, Kimono, siapo, S`amoa, Aidscape, Japan, Segalen, climate change
Yuki Kihara’s work ‘サーモアについてのうた [Sāmoa no uta] ‘A Song about Sāmoa’ (2019) is a series of five installations, each made up of garments blending two traditions into one new medium: the siapo-kimono. Focussing on the first two series, ‘Vasa’ [Ocean] and ‘Fanua’ [Land], the present article discusses the ways in which this hybrid medium should be understood in terms of kimono culture, and in the context of other aesthetic appropriations of kimono, such as Serge Mouangue’s WAfrica Project (2007-2017) and the ‘Imagine Oneworld Kimono Project’ (2005-2020). The siapo dimension of Kihara’s work is subsequently explored with reference to Visesio Siasau’s tapa installation, ‘o onotu’ofe’uli- onotu’ofekula’ (2014), and Dame Robin White’s ngatu work, ‘To See and to Know Are Not Necessarily the Same’ (2021) which was created in collaboration with Taeko Ogawa and Ebonie Fifita. On the strength of this analysis, it is argued that Kihara’s work does not seek to innovate the traditions of siapo and kimono so much as to engage with the contemporary political issues depicted on the siapo-kimono’s surface. Kihara’s work should thus be understood in terms of its political message and as a form of mural. The latter part of the article explores the implications of this idea, highlighting the way Kihara focuses on the Japanese influence in the Pacific, and asks finally whether ‘A Song about Sāmoa’ is in fact, Kihara’s ‘Guernica’.
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