Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Everything Is Video: Shigeko Kubota

Shigeko Kubota

Liquid Reality

Through Jan 1, 2022


Peter Moore. Photograph of Shigeko Kubota reflected in Three Mountains (1976–79) in her loft on Mercer Street, New York, 1979. Courtesy Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation. Photo © 2021 Barbara Moore/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Shown: 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. © 2021 Estate of Shigeko Kubota/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
  • MoMA, Floor 4, StudioThe Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio
  • MoMA, Floor 4, 414

Likening video technology to a “new paintbrush,” Shigeko Kubota was one of the first artists to commit to video in the 1970s. She developed a unique form of video sculpture, extending her otherworldly portraits and landscapes into three-dimensional forms made from plywood and sheet metal, often incorporating mirrors and flowing water. By combining “the energy of electrons” with these raw materials, she proposed a life for video beyond the constraints of the “TV box.” The first solo presentation of the artist’s work at a US museum in 25 years, this exhibition sheds new light on how these sculptures—which draw parallels between nature, technology, and time—continue to resonate in today’s digitally interconnected world.

Kubota observed, “[In] video’s reality, infinite variation becomes possible...freedom to dissolve, reconstruct, mutate all forms, shape, color, location, speed, scale...liquid reality.” This exhibition highlights six works from a critical decade between 1976 and 1985, during which Kubota pivoted from her sculptural homages to artist Marcel Duchamp to embrace nature as a means of examining the medium of video, the world, and her place in it. From Three Mountains (1976-79), which draws on the artist’s time spent in the deserts of the American Southwest, to Berlin Diary: Thanks to My Ancestors (1981), an electronic monument to her family, Kubota examined how technology can offer new ways of understanding our own humanity.

Organized by Erica Papernik-Shimizu, Associate Curator, with the support of Veronika Molnar, Intern, Department of Media and Performance.

The exhibition is presented as part of The Hyundai Card Performance Series.

Major support is provided by the Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions.

Generous funding is provided by the Lonti Ebers Endowment for Performance and the Sarah Arison Endowment Fund for Performance.

Additional support is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.


  • Shigeko Kubota: Liquid RealityExhibition catalogue, 112 pages