Here Is Every. Four Decades of Contemporary Art

Shigeko Kubota. Shigeko Kubota. Duchampiana: Nude Descending a Staircase. 1976

Super 8mm film transferred to video and color-synthesized video (color, silent), monitors, and plywood, 66 1/4 x 30 15/16 x 67" (168.3 x 78.6 x 170.2 cm). Gift of Margot and John Ernst, Agnes Gund, and Barbara Pine. © 2018 Shigeko Kubota

SHIGEKO KUBOTA: My name is Shigeko Kubota. I was born in Japan on the mountainside, near the Sea of Japan.

NARRATOR: In the mid-1970s, Kubota, then living in New York, made a series of video sculptures that paid homage to the artist, Marcel Duchamp. Here she re-interprets Duchamp’s iconic painting of a nude in motion.

SHIGEKO KUBOTA: Duchamp's Nude Descending, he cutting time, slashing in time. I said this is a very beautiful movement. Can I show it on video? Video good for cutting in time, changing in time, fast or slower or freeze, you know.

NARRATOR: Kubota filmed the piece in the lobby of a theater in lower Manhattan; a local filmmaker agreed to be the nude.

SHIGEKO KUBOTA: It was a cold winter day. We covered all the glass window so people don't see us. She was gorgeous and pretty and elegant. I respected her body movement of descending down, and up descending down.

NARRATOR: Kubota used four screens to fragment the image of the nude. She assembled them in a plywood staircase. That staircase, in addition to referencing the one in the original painting, served a unique, practical purpose-- it hid the brand name of the televisions.

SHIGEKO KUBOTA: I buy the Sony TV but I didn't want to show it to Sony. I thought a wooden box is better to hide the company's name. Natural organic material to the video, like, you know, shining movies, light coming from the box. Beautiful. Magic I thought.

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