Ulugali'i Samoa: Samoan Couple

Shigeyuki Kihara Samoan

Not on view

A Samoan couple sits for a wedding portrait dressed in siapo, or bark cloth, and ceremonial adornments: necklaces of cowrie shells and segments of pandanus fruit, a fan woven from leaves of the same tree, and a fue, or fly whisk, braided from coconut fibers. The picture adheres closely to studio tableaux made in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for a Western market hungry for exotic images. Here, however, both roles are played by Shigeyuki Kihara, who was assigned the gender male at birth but identifies as fa’a fafine (“in the manner of a woman”). By embracing this third gender and transposing her disguised head onto a male torso, Kihara refuses binary positions, challenges sexual stereotypes, and subverts long-held Western perceptions of Pacific bodies.

Ulugali'i Samoa: Samoan Couple, Shigeyuki Kihara (Samoan, born 1975), Chromogenic print on "Fujicolor Professional Paper", Samoan

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