Archive of online talk related to the “Viva Video! The Art and Life of Shigeko Kubota”, Vol.1
Viva Video! : The Art and Life of Shigeko Kubota Online Talk Vol. 1
Why is it Shigeko Kubota Now? Viva Video! x Liquid Reality
Detail of Online Talk
１. About the Viva Video! The Art and Life of Shigeko Kubota exhibition
Mayumi Hamada, Curator, The Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art
２. About the Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality exhibition
Erica Papernik-Shimizu, Associate Curator, Museum of Modern Art, New York
３. About the Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation
Lia Robinson, Director of Programs and Research, the Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation
４. A roundtable discussion on two exhibitions
Erica Papernik-Shimizu, Lia Robinson, Mayumi Hamada, Azusa Hashimoto (Curator, The National Museum of Art, Osaka), Mihoko Nishikawa (Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo), Midori Yoshimoto (Associate Professor of Art History and Gallery Director, New Jersey City University)
N: Nishikawa, Hashi: Hashimoto, Hama: Hamada, Y: Yoshimoto
P: Paperrnik, R: Robinson
____ What do you think when comparing the two exhibitions?
P: I think it is wonderful that the two exhibitions were held at the same time, and that we were able to examine Kubota's works in a wide and multifaceted manner, and that both exhibitions had a complementary relationship with each other. MoMA's exhibition approaches with a little more focus, narrowing the period at the time when Kubota began so-called video sculpture. On the other hand, Japanese exhibition is organized from a broader perspective. I think it is important to convey the background of each exhibition like this. In our exhibition, we explored the significance of video sculpture by delving into the connections between them.
R: I saw interestingly that the curators of the two exhibitions approached Kubota's practice from different perspectives. I think it's great that the Japanese team has integrated her practices, including performances, and shown her footsteps like her diary. MoMA focuses on video sculpture, and from the moment Kubota's creativity blooms, you can learn more about the transition period that incorporates nature such as water. Even if you can't actually visit, it's great that the two exhibitions are held simultaneously across different continents, so that audiences around the world have the opportunity to come into contact with complementary contents.
Y: At MoMA, before entering Kubota's solo exhibition, you see the works of other contemporaneous artists. I was moved by the fact that Kubota was finally exhibited side by side with contemporary Americans and artists from around the world. The exhibition is divided into two rooms, and the contrast is interesting. The room which collected landscape-related works such as Niagara Falls borrows skyscrapers in Manhattan, such as NBC, a TV station, as a backdrop. There is also Video Haiku using a curved mirror. They seem to symbolize “Liquid Reality” and it is very impressive. Japan's Viva Video! sheds light on the artist’s life from the beginning to the end, displaying a lot of documents. I think it was a worthwhile working hard.
Hashi: Niagara Falls looks different, especially at three venues in Japan. The reflection looks different due to the difference in the height of the ceiling and brightness. In New York, it is interesting to see a window with outside light in the background. In fact, as I researched that Kubota herself exhibited in various ways according to the location every time the exhibition was held. This time I was able to compare the differences.
I think MoMA's exhibition makes me think about how I can see Kubota's works in the present day. We, Japanese team thought of interpreting three-dimensionally the previously fragmented facets Kubota's career, such as a Fluxus artist, or in the context of video art. I heard many comments that the viewers were able to learn about the previously unfamiliar artist, Kubota, for the first time through this exhibition. I think both exhibitions could function to reposition Shigeko Kubota in art history, both in Japan, in the United States, or more globally.
____ What does "Liquid Reality" in the title of MoMA solo exhibition mean?
P: The concept of "Liquid Reality" is reflected in Kubota’s works in various aspects. First, it means that video has the potential to change constantly. Her use of video in sculptures is made possible due to its fluidity. A broader meaning is freedom. Kubota democratized the medium of video. It showed that video is available to all artists, regardless of gender and class. She expressed visually by translating her surrounding environment into video. It's also important to move to another location, just as she herself moved from Japan to New York. She integrated feelings including solitude to attribute somewhere by moving back and forth. "Liquid Reality" means such freedom, and I think it was the most important thing in her way of thinking. I wanted to express such things at the exhibition.
Nishi: One of the characteristics of visual art is its liquid-like fluidity, that is, it is constantly changing. In order to exhibit video art, it is necessary to work on the conversion of equipment. In these two exhibitions, the Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation played a central role in the restoration work with great effort. In the process, I realized that it is also necessary to respond flexibly without changing the essence of the work. Holding an exhibition is also meaningful in the field of the study of video art, and I think it is important to keep a record of it.
_______ What about the audience's reaction?
P: People who knew Kubota say it's great to be able to actually see works that you've only seen in images. And many artists said it was a long-awaited exhibition. The importance of Kubota's work, which was the source of inspiration, was finally recognized. It was something I had predicted to some extent, but I am very happy that a wider range of artists than I anticipated responded.
Those who did not know about Kubota are surprised to see it. After seeing other exhibits on the same floor, people seem to be surprised that there are moving video art, unlike looking at static objects as before. MoMA intends to move away from traditional narratives and create interactive stories. Connections emerge from art history, in which formats such as Kubota's video sculpture were born. Kubota's use of video was innovative in that it separated television from conventional commercialism. Many artists still conduct artistic experiments using daily objects such as home appliances, but Kubota was at the starting point.
Nishi: The audience's comments tell us that they have experienced the work through their bodies. I realized that the charm and essence of Kubota's video sculpture is to bring out such an appreciation experience.
______ (A question from the audience) Can you see criticisms of mass production and consumer society in Kubota's work using industrial products?
Hashi: Like monitors are hung upside down and reflecting their images on the water in River, Kubota preferred to multilayer the image by reflecting it on something. Mirrors in the water further fragment an image and continue to change organically. When using a monitor, Kubota covered the TV equipment with a box to hide the manufacturer's name. Her use of industrial products was not to comment on the mass-consumerist society, but by hiding such aspects, I think she consciously transformed a television into a sculpture and converted their values.
_______ (Question from the audience) How do you interpret Kubota's work as reflecting personal emotions and experiences, while there is a connection to the counterculture of criticism of mass communication?
P: Kubota's video sculptures are countercultural and personal narrative contains both. That is also an interesting point of Kubota's work. She structurally grasped the importance of the medium of video in relation to society. And she used that tool successfully to interweave her personal experience and her place in the world. I think it was innovative at the time to use TV media to express personal experiences in that way. The attitude of turning TVs upside down in River and showing only their reflections is a criticism of mass media, but also a reflection of the Shinano River from her hometown. It can be said that the uniqueness of Kubota's work is that it combines critical elements with the conflicting terms of the private.