Shigeko Kubota (1937-2015)
My Father (1973)
Shigeko Kubota was one of the first artists living in New York City with access to the Sony Portapak, a portable video camera released in 1967. A Japanese sculptor, video artist, and performance artist associated with the Fluxus movement, her practice was closely tied to her personal experience as a woman as well as to her commitment to the avant-garde. She sometimes collaborated with her husband, Nam June Paik, himself another video pioneer. My Father is an example of Kubota’s exploration of the video diary form, wherein she memorializes her dad and confronts her own grief and regret.

"Father, why did you die?" With this deeply intimate statement of grief, Kubota mourns the death of her father. Video and television are central to her ritual of mourning, and allow her father to assume a presence after death. Kubota and her father, who was dying of cancer in Japan, are seen watching television together on New Year's Eve. The suffering of father and daughter is rendered even more poignant when contrasted with the everyday banality of the pop music and New Year's celebrations on TV. After his death, Kubota weeps alone in front of a video monitor. Awash with tears and personal pain, My Father is a cathartic exorcism of grief, with video serving as witness and memory.