• Culture for Sale Forum

    This Culture for Sale Forum explores the inspiration behind Shigeyuki Kihara’s itineric live performance and video installation ‘Culture for Sale’


    By highlighting the relationships between race, history and representation in nineteenth-century cultural tours from the Pacific, Culture for Sale draws attention to the inherent inequalities of this colonial exchange, whilst highlighting the skill and discipline of the performers themselves.


    This disjunction in power relationships between performers and their audiences drives both the art work and commentary on it, and will be the focus of the forum.


    There will also be opportunity for questions and discussion from the floor.




    Topic:  ‘Culture for Sale; a Post-colonial Völkerschau’

    Presenter: Yuki Kihara, Artist


    In August 2011 performance artist Shigeyuki Kihara travelled to Germany with the support of the Goethe-Institut to investigate museum archives held across Germany to research materials related to her on-going research into the German administration of Samoa from 1900 till 1914. Kihara’s presentation traces the historical footprints of several groups of Samoans including men, women and small children who travelled and toured extensively across cities in Germany including Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne where they were exhibited in a zoo – a practice commonly known as Völkerschau a popular form of exotic entertainment and colonial theatre at the time.


    Culture for Sale – a live public performance and interactive video installation first staged at the Campbelltown Arts Center in the context of 2012 Sydney Festival is conceptually informed by the Samoan participation in the “Völkerschauen”. Culture for Sale explores the intersections between dance, representation and money. The presentation will explore how Samoan identity was contextualized under German colonialism, and will question whether the surrounding ideas continue to resonate in the daily lives of Samoan people in the so called ‘post-colonial’ era, celebrated in the recent 50th anniversary of Samoan Independence in June 2012.


    Biography: A native of Samoa, YUKI KIHARA is an interdisciplinary artist whose work engages in a variety of social, political and cultural issues. Often referencing Pacific history, her work explores the varying relationships between gender, race, culture and politics. Kihara’s works has been presented at the Asia Pacific Triennial (2002), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Solo exhibition 2008); Auckland Triennial (2009), Sakahàn Quinquennial (2013) and the Daegu Photo Biennial (2014). Kihara is confirmed to participate in the upcoming Asia Pacific Triennial held at the Gallery of Modern Art in November 2015.


    Topic: ‘Shigeyuki Kihara’s ‘Culture for Sale’ and the History of Pacific Cultural Performance’

    Presenter: Dr. Mandy Treagus, University of Adelaide


    First staged in Melbourne in 2010, Shigeyuki Kihara’s Culture for Sale draws on Pacific Islander cultural performances that occurred in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries in Europe and the US. Fashionable in exhibitions, world’s fairs and expositions, such performances had a number of functions, among the sideshows of such fairs, including exotic entertainment. Often these performances were also taken to be educational, illustrating far-off cultures and functioning as living demonstrations of theories of Social Darwinism and racial ‘types’. Culture for Sale has been explicitly connected by Kihara to the German administration of Samoa and the ‘exotic’ entertainments provided by Samoans in German Völkerschau around that period. This presentation will examine a similar touring group, which travelled from Samoa to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, featuring a Samoan Village and South Seas Theatre. In doing so, the presentation will consider both the agency of the performers and the discourses through which audiences were invited to view them. It will then consider the ways in which “Culture for Sale” engages with such histories, and the kinds of questions it raises, not only about historical tours, but also about contemporary cultural performance.


    Biography: MANDY TREAGUS is Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide (Australia), where she teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, culture, and visual studies. Her recent book Empire Girls: The Colonial Heroine Comes of Age, considers narratives of development in colonial settings. She has also recently co-edited Changing the Victorian Subject, a collection re-examining Victorian studies in both metropolis and empire. She has also published widely in Pacific literary, historical and visual studies.


    Yuki Kihara, Mandy Treagus and Caroline Vercoe


    4 February, 5.30pm arrival for 6pm start forum ends at 8pm


    Studio One Toi TÅ«, 1 Ponsonby Road, Auckland



    Still from ‘Culture for Sale’ (2014) exhibition by Shigeyuki Kihara at City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Sarah Hunter. Courtesy of Shigeyuki Kihara Studio and Milford Galleries Dunedin. 

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