"Narcissus Garden" (1966)
A couple weeks ago I joined fellow jewellery designer Lisa Ridout for a quick afternoon work break at the gallery. We checked out the Riopelle/Mitchell show, which we both really enjoyed, but on this visit I was happy to get to view "Narcissus Garden" by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Earlier in the Winter I had waited and waited... and waited online (along with evidently thousands of others) to get tickets to see her mirror exhibit, Infinite Kusama. The day was still a week and a half away, so seeing this installation of many spheres only had the anticipation building even higher.
About a week later, my good friend KK and I got to experience Kusama's 6 mirrored rooms as well as many other pieces on exhibit. We were soooo excited!
"Infinity Mirrored Room -- Phalli's Field" (1965/2016)
"Phalli's Field" is made of many many sewn, spotted and stuffed textile forms. Kusama apparently had a fear of sex and her study of these phallic forms over many years was a way for her to address her anxiety.
We geeked out and decided to dress for the occasion. I selected a mirrored skirt my neighbour recently gave me and I had not had the chance to wear. It seemed like the perfect thing for this! I paired it with the Medallion Necklace which combines the polka dot theme with the shimmering effect of the mirrors. I was happy to observe that we were not alone in dressing for the exhibit! There were plenty of people in dots and other themed outfits. I know, you must think that I'm about one step away from wearing all Christmas themed things for all of December. Don't worry, I was laughing at myself here too. Haha!
"Infinity Mirrored Room -- The Souls of a Million Light Years Away" (2013)
This room was one of my favourites. I had been trying to avoid seeing images of this show in the months leading up to our visit. I had been told by Lisa that one room was like Swarovski Crystals on drugs and am going to guess she meant this one. This photo doesn't do it justice. You are allowed 20 seconds in each room. It's such a short amount of time, yet for fleeting moments, you will instantly get lost in another world as soon as the door is closed. I found I wanted to experience the rooms with my eyes, yet I still wanted to record it by snapping a photo or two in the 20 seconds. So I did both, and sometimes took photos without looking at what I was photographing, so some of these are not my best effort! Check out my Instagram feed @moonrox_ca to see a video of this room.
"Dots Obsession -- Love Transformed into Dots" (2007, installed 2018)This huge room was filled with a warm pink glow emanating from these giant polka dotted hollow forms. Amongst all of these spheres was one speckled orb with a hole that was only about 3 inches in diameter that you could peep into.
This was the mirrored spectacle inside.
"Infinity Mirrored Room -- Love Forever" (1966/1994)
It's amazing that Kusama first created this over 50 years ago. It's a many sided piece with two small windows so you would see yourself and potentially the face of your love reflected endlessly. The colours changed by the moment and it was mesmerizing. We lined up twice for this one and one other. If we were not super hungry, we won't have stayed longer and gotten in line a few more times.
This room starts out entirely blank white -- completely devoid of colour. Each visitor is given a sheet of stickers that you can then place anywhere you like! The white will gradually become obliterated. We visited in the first week of the show, so I'm interested to see how it will look like in even a month's time. Here is a video of the "Obliteration Room" at the Tate in 2012.
"Infinity Mirrored Room -- Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity" (2009)
This was also one of my favourites. I think I am unable to decide which was my favourite. Can I have a top 3? This room was so breathtaking and tranquil as you become encompassed in the warm glow of so many little lanterns in this ethereal space.
The whole show was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever experienced before. You are truly immersed in the art, in fact, becoming part of it. You become one with the piece as your own familiar image is reflected back to you a multitude of times along with your manufactured surrounding. In some of the spaces, you become so lost in the infinity before you that you almost feel as if you are no longer standing on the ground.
So after 13 plus hours waiting for the tickets and a couple months awaiting the arrival of this day, it was worth it. What's any of those amounts of time in comparison to infinity!?