The Pacific Islands occupy a place in the Western imagination as a paradise filled with idyllic beaches and lush, tropical landscapes inhabited by dusky maidens. With historical precedents in the accounts of European explorers, these perceptions were later re-invented and popularized by Hollywood films in the 1920s through the 50s. Contemporary artists from the Pacific Islands frequently play with and invert such perceptions, and their work provides an alternate, more complex vision of the region.
Paradise Lost? Contemporary Works from the Pacific features works by artists from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Vanuatu. Working in video, installation, sculpture, painting, and photography, the artists show the Pacific Islands from an insiders perspective. Their artworks explore environmental concerns, cultural heritage issues, questions relating to the experience of migration and diaspora, and the intersection of Indigenous belief systems and Western religions.
The exhibition at Satellite Gallery
features photography and video works by artists Greg Semu and Shigeyuki Kihara. Greg Semu, of Pacific Island heritage, was born and raised in New Zealand. His artwork has been collected and exhibited in museums around the world, including in France, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Taiwan. His work addresses cultural displacement and the effects of colonialism on Indigenous cultures, particularly in the Pacific Islands, as well as Christian iconography's mutation of tribal and so-called primitive icons.
A native of Samoa, Shigeyuki Kihara is a performance artist and freelance curator currently based in Auckland, New Zealand. Kiharas work has been featured in major events such as the Asia Pacific Triennial, the Auckland Triennial and Videonale. Kiharas first solo museum exhibition in North America, Shigeyuki Kihara: Living Photographs (2008-09), was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, following the acquisition of her works by the museum for their permanent collection. Kihara's work is included in the current exhibition Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada.
Curated by Dr. Carol Mayer (Curator, Africa/Pacific), and organized to coincide with the Pacific Arts Association Symposium at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, the exhibition will feature works displayed throughout MOAs public spaces and at our downtown Satellite Gallery.