Yuki Kihara is selected to represent Aotearoa at the Venice Biennale Award / Appointment


NameYuki Kihara is selected to represent Aotearoa at the Venice Biennale
ArtformVisual arts


In February 2020, The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa announced that Yuki Kihara had been selected to represent Aotearoa as the country’s official artist at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Kihara was the first Pasifika, first Asian and first Fa’afafine (Sāmoa’s ‘third gender’) artist to represent New Zealand at the Biennale.

She recounts telling her mother that she’d been selected: “When I closed off the Zoom screen I screamed at the top of my lungs! My gosh, I was so elated.” At this point, Kihara’s mother ran into the room to find out “what the heck was going on”. “And I said, ‘Mum! Mum! I’m going to Venice!’ And mum was like, ‘Where’s Venice?’ So I had to use Google maps and show her where Venice was”.

The Biennale was initially scheduled for 2021, but ended up taking place in 2022 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with curators Natalie King and Ioana Gordon-Smith, Kihara presented Paradise Camp, a multimedia installation that responded to the troubled legacy of Paul Gaugin in the Pacific, and celebrated the Fa‘afafine and Fa‘atama communities in Sāmoa.

Kihara also initiated the ‘Firsts Solidarity Network’ among the national pavilions at the 59th Biennale. This was an informal network for artists who were a “first time representative from a marginalised or under-represented group in their respective country or a first-time country participant at the Biennale Arte”, as well as offering a route for Biennale visitors to follow through these ‘first’ pavilions.

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Last updated: 5 March 2024 Suggest an Edit


'Biennale Arte 2021: New Zealand's artist and curator announced', Creative New Zealand, 2020

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Creative New Zealand, "The making of 'Paradise Camp'"

'Firsts Solidarity Network of Venice pavilions to highlight a turning point in artistic representation', Creative New Zealand, 2021

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'The triumph of Yuki Kihara's Paradise Camp', Creative New Zealand, November 25, 2022

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