Kudo’s meticulous microenvironments combine industrial materials and everyday objects that suggest the threats posed by nuclear energy and technology. This sculpture, from a group of works known as Pollution–Cultivation–New Ecology, features depictions of human organs painted in fluorescent colors and insects entangled in electrical cables and wires on a circuit board, all covered by a layer of dried-up soil and discolored plastic flowers in a state of near ruin.
Kudo, who had been part of the Neo-Dada movement in Tokyo in the early 1960s, arrived in Paris in 1962, one of many Japanese artists who moved abroad in order to study. He considered the French capital a “protective dome,” and remained there for nearly twenty years. The source of his apocalyptic vision of the future may in part have been his childhood experiences of World War II, but it may also have sprung from what he perceived as the “unreasonable demand on nature” imposed by human behavior and values. “In the past, our way of thinking on Earth has often been based on antagonism,” the artist wrote in 1972. “And antagonism, in which human beings confront nature or mechanisms, only creates pollution.”
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)