Internationally renowned artist Yuki Kihara will present new work set in Heretaunga at MTG Hawke's Bay Tai Ahuriri from December 8.
Ms Kihara's interest in the region was inspired by the late Tama Huata's account of how the waka Takitimu was originally built in her homeland of Sāmoa – many generations before carrying the ancestors of Ngāti Kahungunu to Aotearoa.
Building on this ancestral connection, Ms Kihara embodies the symbolic figure of Salome in haunting photographic artworks featuring sites across Hawke's Bay.
"Salome was the perfect character for the project because she directs our focus to various issues at hand," explains Kihara.
"The audience engages with the world through Salome's lens, and where she had visited prior to arrival in Heretaunga gives us clues to what she could be thinking or feeling."
The exhibition is titled Yuki Kihara: Te Taenga Mai o Salome, which translates into Sāmoan as O le Taunu'u Mai o Salome and into English as The Arrival of Salome.
Along with the five new artworks that were created during Kihara's artist residency at MTG Hawke's Bay this year, the exhibition also includes earlier Sāmoa-based photographs and video works featuring Salome.
Together, the artworks highlight not only the ancestral links between Sāmoa and Ngāti Kahungunu, but also shared experiences of colonialism.
Echoing the questions of French artist Paul Gauguin, "Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going", Salome highlights past events to provoke thought on how current conditions came to be, and how they might play out in future.
Ms Kihara developed the artworks during her residency in March, spending two weeks travelling throughout the region to meet with members of Ngāti Kahungunu hapū and local Sāmoan communities, as part of the research process. A two-day photoshoot followed, capturing Kihara as Salome at five chosen locations, ranging from Pakipaki to Waimārama.
The works are large-scale lenticular prints, which combine still images to create the effect of motion as the viewer moves in relation to each work.
"The MTG residency has enabled me to look behind the picturesque landscapes and think about social and political power structures," Ms Kihara explains.
"These affect local people at the grass-roots level, who are often disregarded while bearing the brunt of government policies."