Shigeko Kubota

Shigeko Kubota (August 1937 – July 2015)

“I want to create a fusion of art and life, Asia and America, Duchampiana and Levi-Straussian savagism, cool form and hot video”

Shigeko Kubota was a Japanese video artist, sculptor and avant-garde performance artist who spent most of her life in New York; she moved there in 1964 after she witnessed John Cage perform in Tokyo in 1962 and George Maciunas invited her for a performance. She travelled to New York with Mieko Shiomi. Kubota went on to be dubbed ‘Vice President’ of Fluxus by Maciunas. Kubota was married to Nam June Paik from 1977:

“We are very different, like water and oil. Even when I did my own stuff, people said, ‘She imitates Nam June.’ I found it infuriating. So I headed further in the direction of Duchamp. When Nam June went populist, I went for high art. . . with video, Nam June was experimental and dirty. Wires were sticking out from his early machine works. That’s why I went toward Duchamp. My work was very conceptual. I made boxes and put everything in them. Nam June encouraged me a lot.”

– Shigeko Kubota

“Maciunas was Kubota’s mentor, Paik her life partner, but Duchamp was her muse.”

Kubota was one of the first artists to use the portable video camera Portapak in 1970:

“Film was chemical, but video was more organic. To me Portapack was like a new paint brush. It was certainly in the same spirit as Fluxus, ‘do it yourself.’”

– Shigeko Kubota

Kubota was one of the pioneers of video art, even comparing this new medium to a ‘new paintbrush’. She was well known for her sculptural installations: sculptures containing monitors playing her original videos. Kubota’s works explore the role of technology and video and their influence on human emotion and memory.

Kubota’s most famous work was her Vagina Painting in which she attached a paintbrush to her underwear, dipped it in red ink and squatted to produce the work – a nod to menstruation. The one-off performance of this was at the Perpetual Fluxus festival. It is largely seen as a feminist piece, however, in a 2007 interview, Kubota claimed that she did not view herself as a feminist:

“Male or female, art is art. People can put me in the Feminist category all they want, but I didn’t think I can make any real contribution other than my work as an artist.”

– Shigeko Kubota


MoMA biography:


Biography (German):





Obituary, New York Times:

Obituary, artnet:

Kubota’s Works:

Duchampiana: Nude Descending a Staircase: 

Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation: ​​

Titles & descriptions of Kubota’s works:

My Father (mourning the death of Kubota’s father):

Biography & explanation of main works:

Merce by merce by paik PAIK & KUBOTA:

Before Projection: Video Sculptures 1974-1995:

On Kubota’s Broken Diary:

Berlin Diary: Thanks to My Ancestors (part of a series of Broken Diary, combining real images with memories in journal entry style: 

Three Minutes of Art: Shigeko Kubota (French):

The Luminous Image (overview of the 1984 exhibition of video installations in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam with brief statements of participating artists), (Kubota, ‘Three Mountains’ 1976-1979: 00:00 – 10:30):

‘Video is Victory of Video’: The Radical Art of Shigeko Kubota:


On Kubota’s video sculptures:

The Essential works of Shigeko Kubota:

How Shigeko Kubota Pioneered Video as a Personal Medium:

The Visionary Female Video Artist Shigeko Kubota, Who Pioneered Immersive Experience, Finally Gets Her Due At MoMA, Forbes:

Kubota’s Reunion with Duchamp and Cage:

Artforum article:

Shigeko Kubota – Video Sculptures:


In conversation with Kubota (2007 interview):


‘Shigeko Kubota | a woman artist, her life’ (2019-2020 exhibition):

Timeline of exhibitions:


Artists in New York: The Virtual Asian American Art Museum (Panel 1/2):

Artists in New York: The Virtual Asian American Art Museum (Panel 2/2)

Shigeko Kubota at Art Basel 2021: ​​

Lecture of Shigeko Kubota (September 2021):


Shigeko Kubota Video Sculpture: American Museum of the Moving Image

Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality

Overview of book: