“Out of Bounds: Japanese Women Artists in Fluxus” Exhibition

Japan Society Gallery

poster for “Out of Bounds: Japanese Women Artists in Fluxus” Exhibition
[Image: Products for Fluxus editions (1964) Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY]

This event has ended.

This exhibition will be the first to fully explore the essential role of Japanese women in Fluxus, a movement instigated in the 1960s that helped contemporary artists define new modes of artistic expression. Near the 60th anniversary of the movement’s founding, this exhibition highlights the contributions of four pioneering Japanese artists — Shigeko Kubota (1937–2015), Yoko Ono (1933–), Takako Saito (1929–), and Mieko Shiomi (1938–) — and contextualizes their role within Fluxus and the broader artistic movements of the 1960s and beyond.

The exhibition is organized by Midori Yoshimoto, Guest Curator, and Tiffany Lambert, Curator and Interim Director, Japan Society, with Ayaka Iida, Assistant Curator, Japan Society.



As a student, Mieko Shiomi co-founded the avant-garde collective, Group Ongaku, exploring novel ways of improvisation in music and performance. After sending her seminal work, Endless Box (1963–65) to Maciunas through the introduction of the Korean American artist Nam June Paik, Shiomi went to New York with Kubota in 1964 and participated in Fluxus events and performances. Following her year-long stay, she created Spatial Poem, a series of nine mail-art, language-based prompts, later published as Fluxus editions. More than fifty years after its inception, this exhibition will feature the 2023 version of Spatial Poem No. 5 Open Event, contributed by people around the world.


Shigeko Kubota, a pioneering figure in the history of video and multimedia art, played a crucial role in Fluxus, bridging the Japanese and American avant-garde. After moving to New York with fellow artist Mieko Shiomi in 1964, she contributed to organizing Fluxus activities with George Maciunas, the Lithuanian American artist and founding member of the movement. Nicknamed “the Vice President of Fluxus” by Maciunas, Kubota also conceived her own Fluxus works, such as Flux Napkins (1967) and Flux Medicine (c. 1966).


Takako Saito was introduced to Fluxus and the New York avant-garde art scene through another Japanese artist, Ay-O, whom she met through her participation in the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai (Society for Creative Art Education) in the 1950s. After moving to New York in 1963, Saito joined the Fluxus community, assisting Maciunas with the creation of objects and multiples. Though largely self-taught, Saito applied her meticulous handcraft skills to produce a series of imaginative chess sets, including Grinder Chess (c. 1966) and Sound Chess (1965/77) that illuminate the multi-sensory and participatory nature underpinning her work.


Since emerging in New York’s downtown art scene in 1960, Yoko Ono has made profound contributions to conceptual and performance art. Through her first marriage to composer Toshi Ichiyanagi, Ono was introduced to the New York avant-garde circle, including experimental composers, such as John Cage and La Monte Young. In 1961, she staged her first solo show at Maciunas’ AG Gallery and became a key contributor to the Fluxus movement. This exhibition will feature a selection of Ono’s earliest performances, including Cut Piece and Bag Piece, both originally staged in 1964.



from October 13, 2023 to January 21, 2024

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