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Fa'afafine; in a manner of a woman.

In old Samoa, faleaitu (house of spirits) was theatre performed by men presenting political satire in skits in front of the chiefs. The men of faleaitu were respected as entertainers and simultaneously served as social commentators to the wider community.

It is the ancient practice of faleaitu which led Shigeyuki Kihara to create her 2005 body of work entitled Fa'afafine; in a manner of a woman, a series of photographic self portraits where she disguises herself to portray a Samoan man, a woman, and a married couple. These works pay homage to Kihara's ancestors and to simultaneously subvert the dominant western heterosexual "normalcy" that continues to conflict with the existence of Fa'afafine people today.

Shigeyuki Kihara's double portrait of a married couple complicates all our expectations of human gender. Here, the artist shows herself as a man and as a woman, in the role of a married couple. The traditional wedding photograph is transformed into a visual exploration of sexuality and the nature of male to female relationships.

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Publication:Tok Blong Pasifik
Date:Sep 22, 2008
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