My Father (1975)

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Shigeko Kubota's video works are unmistakably her own. None shy away from addressing theoretical and technical issues, but each has a considered form and takes on subject matter not often seen in American video art. My Father, a video elegy for her recently deceased father, is no different. The day before leaving to visit him in Japan, Kubota receives the news of his death. She turns on the video camera and records herself watching a tape of their last visit together. She cries, shakes with grief and reaches her hand out towards the screen to touch it. Intercut with these images are short text messages which serve as revelations of the relationship between her and her father, and bits of the video she is initially watching on the television. It feels, at first, that we're witnessing a private spectacle, that the camera is letting us in on intimate terms with Kubota's grief. For all this intimacy, however, we can neither understand it nor participate in it, which is a distance reinforced by the Kubota's conversations which we can't understand either. Even in this very subjective work, the haphazard is tempered by a formal elegance.