Masami Kubo's practice is informed by conditions and controversies surrounding a fundamentalist upbringing within the Unification Church, a new religious movement founded by a self-proclaimed messiah. Its radical doctrine of an ideal race, mass arranged marriages, and various ritual practices derive from an amalgamation of Christianity, eastern pagan rites, and misconstrued postmodern philosophy.
This show comprises of two disciplines of art: abstraction and performative process through woodblock printmaking and research-based slideshow presentations. In both practices, Kubo presents a staging of liminal space on which she explores processes of belief-making through labor. Part of her upbringing revolved around a discipline of ritualized labor as worship. In the case of her woodblock prints, repetitive full-prostration or self-flagellation as a means to embody and measure faith is transmuted into repetitive mark-making as a means to abstract personal trauma. One wall presents a series of woodblock prints that explore liminal spaces in its most common form: thresholds. The other wall is plastered with woodblock prints featuring Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unificationism, in the same spiral motif as Claude Mellan’s Sudarium of Saint Veronica (1649).
The slideshow as a pedagogical format is a common tool of indoctrination, especially within the Unification Church. Figure 01: Vertical Restoration is the genesis for a series of ongoing slideshow presentations. In this first iteration, a cardboard structure unfolded into a backdrop for the slide projection, referencing the original first Unificationist church that was built out of cardboard and mud in South Korea in the 1950s. The slideshow itself comprised of a stream-of-conscious nexus of images ranging from personal family photos, diagrams, stock photos, as well as editorial images from current events and pop culture. Throughout these presentations, Kubo occupies a multi-positional space, where her oration both educates and decentralizes the audience, in an attempt to shed light on subjective trauma within social superstructures. Content for these slideshows is discovered through a constant audit of articles, media, and personal accounts related to the Unification Church’s socio-political activities. Since its proliferation in the 1970’s, the church has developed a globally influential empire with investments ranging from weapons manufacturing to energy drinks, and political ties spanning from the Nixon administration to North Korea’s Kim Jong Il. This exploration initiates a chain of associations within various topics and disciplines that serve to contextualize and reposition the content. These slideshow presentations result in a transference of the violence within social programming, where both the spectator and the artist as the subject fluctuate between feelings of dissociation and empathy.
Kubo's work derives from preconditioned obsessive behaviors. Whether these behaviors are entrenched in repetitive expressions of veneration, or the extraction of indoctrination through truth-seeking. Her position within these contradicting ritual relationships is a constantly moving target, ever-shifting through states of alienation and empathy.