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Kazue Kobata.
Kazue Kobata.

Kazue Kobata (1946–2019)

Kazue Kobata—a Japanese curator, professor, translator, and former Artforum contributing editor, whose interests spanned film, architecture, avant-garde music, and dance improvisation—has died. She was seventy-three years old.

Kobata was a longtime adjunct curator and producer at Amsterdam’s De Appel and New York’s MoMA PS1, where she produced exhibitions including “Buzz Club: News from Japan” (2001). Among her many collaborators in a far-flung career were musicians Laurie Anderson and Derek Bailey; art director Eiko Ishioka; and writer Susan Sontag, whose essays she translated into Japanese. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, she contributed articles to Artforum as contributing editor. 

Beginning in the 1970s, Kobata was a researcher and shooting coordinator for Life and Look magazines, working with photographers including Michael Rougier, Douglas Kirkland, and Annie Leibovitz. As an editor, she acquired Yayoi Kusama’s first novel, Manhattan jisatsu misui jōshūhan (1978). She also served as a location shooting assistant and researcher for Chris Marker, assisting on his landmark films Sans Soleil (1983) and Level Five (1997), and was a researcher for designer-architects Denise Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, and Lawrence Halprin. In 1982, she opened plan-B, Japan’s first alternative artist-run cooperative and space, with dancer Min Tanaka and Mono-ha artists, in Nakano, Tokyo.

Most recently, as a professor in the intermedia department of Tokyo University of the Arts, Kobata organized exhibitions with artists and thinkers such as Rem Koolhaas, Noriyuki Haraguchi, Min Tanaka, and Antonio Negri.