Shigeko Kubota, the Japanese born artist who is living and working for more than three decades in New York, seen by some writers as the one who brought the term of video sculpture in the seventies into art, and developed the concept of reapproation that became so fashionable in the eighties, is displaying her work at the Kamakura gallery in Tokyo Ginza until the end of February 1998.
She became famous with her approapriations of the works, life and ideas of Marcel Duchamp, deconstructing him in the video medium. Duchampiana the series of video sculptures she conceived in the seventies and eighties is based on such Duchamp's master pieces as The Nude Descending a Staircase, or using even original documentaries she filmed when she met Duchamp personally in the 1968. But this is not a place for displayingt all she did, as it is even difficult just simply to list her intensive involvment in video and all her others activities in art; she was for example one of the leading Fluxus artists with Yoko Ono, George Maciunas, Allan Kaprow and Nam June Paik. Paik has a special position in her life and work story, as she married him in 1977. Although the fact that Paik is playing the role of the nude in her video work/sculpture, from 1968-1975, which is transpoussing the Edouard Manet famous painting of the nude woman having a breakfast on the grass into video, can be of much more importance, when discussing the Paik-Kubota diadic relations.
At the Tokyo Kamakura gallery where is possible to see some older Kubota works, as the mentioned historical video sculpture The Nude Descending a Staircase, from 1975, /in this video work instead of the Duchamp abstract body, Kubota introduced a real nude woman and a real space/ a special attention is given to her latest, from 1997, video work, with the title Sexual Heeling. Paik is playing again in this almost miniature video sculpture, we can say, the role of his life, as the video is showing a documentary of the rehabilitation and recovery of Nam June Paik in a hospital, after he suffered, a year ago, from a strong hard attack. If all Kubota work can be best grasped through the notion of Meta Marcel, that she so superbly mediatized, than a series of Meta Paik will be soon possible to conceive out of her work.
In Sexual Heeling, that can be easely misunderstand for Sexual Healing, Kubota is cleverly displaying to us that the difference between the the image, the object and the body, is always to be found in an almost mispelled detail.
Nam June Paik asked once, reformulating Kubota own statement, "is there video after death"? YES - is my answer, as Sexual Heeling is showing Nam June Paik regenerative vitality and mediality and his own and Kubota meta position, the one in between media/art, history/avantgarde, life and death.
MARINA GRZINIC comes from Ljubljana, Slovenia, is a video artist and writer (theory, art critic) and is currently living in Japan, supported by a one year scholarship. (Marina Grciniz)