Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality at The Museum of Modern Art, through January 1, 2022

“The Museum of Modern Art presents Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality, on view from August 21, 2021, through January 1, 2022. Likening video technology to a ‘new paintbrush,’ New York–based Shigeko Kubota (Japanese, 1937– 2015), whose career spanned more than five decades, was one of the first artists to commit to the video medium in the early 1970s. Formally trained as a sculptor, Kubota’s varied accomplishments as an artist, collaborator, curator, and critic helped to shape a pivotal period in the evolution of video as an art form. Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality is organized by Erica Papernik-Shimizu, Associate Curator, with the support of Veronika Molnar, Intern, Department of Media and Performance.

MoMA’s presentation takes its name from Kubota’s observation that, ‘[In] video’s reality, infinite variation becomes possible…freedom to dissolve, reconstruct, mutate all forms, shape, color, location, speed, scale…liquid reality.’ Featuring works from MoMA’s collection and key loans from the Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation, this exhibition highlights six intrepid video sculptures from a critical decade between 1976 and 1985, during which Kubota pivoted from her sculptural reinterpretations of works by artist Marcel Duchamp to her ‘autobiographical objects.” — MoMA

Shigeko Kubota. Berlin Diary: Thanks to My Ancestors. 1981. Cathode-ray tube monitor, crystal, ink, and twine. 9 × 8 × 11 in. (22.9 × 20.3 × 27.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Modern Women’s Fund, 2021. © 2021 Estate of Shigeko Kubota / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Courtesy Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna. Digital Image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly.
Shigeko Kubota. Self-Portrait. ca. 1970- 71. Standard-definition video (color, silent). 5:24 min. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation, 2021. © 2021 Estate of Shigeko Kubota / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.
Shigeko Kubota. Duchampiana: Nude Descending a Staircase (1976). Standard-definition video and Super 8mm film transferred to video (color, silent; 5:21 min.), four cathode-ray tube monitors, and plywood. 66 1/4 × 30 15/16 × 67 in. (168.3 × 78.6 × 170.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Margot and John Ernst, Agnes Gund, and Barbara Pine, 1981. Artwork © 2021 Estate of Shigeko Kubota / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Digital image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly.
Installation view of Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality, August 21, 2021–January 1, 2022 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly.
Shigeko Kubota. Three Mountains. 1976–79. Four-channel standard-definition video (color, sound; approx. 30 min. each), seven cathode-ray tube monitors, plywood, and mirrors, overall dimensions variable. Courtesy Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation. Artwork © 2021 Estate of Shigeko Kubota/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Digital image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly.
Installation view of Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality, August 21, 2021–January 1, 2022 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly.
Installation view of Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality, August 21, 2021–January 1, 2022 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly.
Shigeko Kubota. Detail of Niagara Falls I. 1985. Four-channel video (color, sound; 30:55 min.), ten cathode-ray tube monitors, plastic mirrors, plywood, water, and sprinkler system, 8 ft. × 54 in. × 8 ft. (243.8 × 137.2 × 243.8 cm). Courtesy Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation. © 2021 Estate of Shigeko Kubota / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Digital image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly.
Shigeko Kubota. Video Haiku–Hanging Piece. 1981. Cathode-ray tube monitor, closed-circuit video camera, mirror, and plywood. Overall dimensions variable, mirror: 40 × 42 in. (101.6 × 106.7 cm). Courtesy Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation. Artwork © 2021 Estate of Shigeko Kubota / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Digital image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly.
Shigeko Kubota. Detail of River. 1979-81. Three-channel standard-definition video (color, silent; approx. 32 min.), three cathode-ray tube monitors, stainless steel, plastic mirrors, water, and wave machine. Overall dimensions variable, basin: 22 × 9 × 4 ft. (670.6 × 274.3 × 121.9 cm). Courtesy Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation. Artwork © 2021 Estate of Shigeko Kubota / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Digital image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly.

Associate Curator Erica Papernik-Shimizu explains, “Kubota’s ‘liquid reality’ positions video as both a total liberation from precedent and a way of life. Her visionary sculptures, through poetic contradictions and an economy of means, masterfully combine a bold interrogation of her own identity with prescient investigations of technology itself.”

Images courtesy The Museum of Modern Art.