New Zealand’s leading performance artist Shigeyuki Kihara has been commissioned by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa to stage her iconic solo dance performance entitled ‘Taualuga: The Last Dance’ which draws on the classical Samoan taualuga dance to retell the cultural legacy of colonialism in Sāmoa from an indigenous perspective. A dancer in a restrictive Victorian mourning dress moves gracefully to a chant sung by village elders, unleashing the aitu (ancestor spirit).
Kihara created the piece in response to a series of historical photographs taken by Alfred John Tattersall, Thomas Andrew, and the Burton Brothers during the colonial administration of Sāmoa by New Zealand (1914–62). Many of these photographs are in Te Papa’s collections.
‘Taualuga: The Last Dance’ has so far been performed at the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Musée du Quai Branly, Paris; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Kihara states: “In the wake of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of Sāmoa this year in June, it is an honour and a privilege for me to perform ‘Taualuga: The Last Dance’ at a leading institution for New Zealand history, heritage and culture – a rich legacy which partly derives from its close relationship with Sāmoa together with the diaspora community in New Zealand. I hope that the commission of my performance from Te Papa contributes to the growing awareness of performance art as a serious discipline of contemporary art practice in New Zealand.”
The video documentation of ‘Taualuga: The Last Dance’ (2006) is included in Te Papa’s current exhibition entitled ‘Collecting Contemporary’. This video work is also part of a permanent exhibition at Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia.
Shigeyuki Kihara is a Samoan-born artist and curator. Her work has featured in several international contemporary art surveys and is held in a number of private and public collections, including at Te Papa and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Toi Te Papa, Art of the Nation, Level 5.< BACK TO LISTINGS