• People
  • Apr 28, 2021

The Essential Works of Shigeko Kubota

Portrait of SHIGEKO KUBOTA. All images copyright the estate of the artist; courtesy Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation, New York unless otherwise stated.

“I want to create a fusion of art and life, Asia and America, Duchampiana and Levi-Straussian savagism, cool form and hot video,” explained Shigeko Kubota about her work in 1979. Born in 1937, in Niigata, Japan, Kubota had met John Cage and Yoko Ono at a 1962 performance in Tokyo and jumped at the chance to live in New York in 1964 when Fluxus founder George Maciunas invited her for a performance. She gradually became a regular figure in the Fluxus community, and Maciunas described her as the collective’s “vice president.” In the 1970s, she picked up a Portapak camera and began creating her most well-known diaristic works, exploring the new media of video installation, her artistic relationship to Marcel Duchamp, as well as her personal relationships with her husband, Nam June Paik (1932–2006), and her father. Kubota showed widely in her life, including at iconic New York venues, from Rene Block Gallery (1976) and The Kitchen (1984) to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1979 and the Whitney Museum of American Art, which surveyed her work in 1996. Her first major survey back home, “Viva Video! The Art and Life of Shigeko Kubota,” is currently at The Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, and will tour to The National Museum of Art, Osaka before ending at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo next February. Here’s a look at some of Kubota’s most influential works.