Even if you’re not completely in the art world it’s probably rare that you haven’t heard of artist Yayoi Kusama who is known for her eye-catching art installations that employ the use of mirrors, dots, and light. You’d be hard pressed not to have been caught up in the news particularly around the hype of Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn and the conversations around a broken pumpkin. I got lucky enough to enjoy the exhibition last weekend and swooned over the use of light, space, reflection and color.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Independence Avenue at 7th Street SW
Washington, DC 20560
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is a celebration of Kusama’s career and has been highly coveted by art lovers and arts novice’s alike. The exhibition features six different Infinity Mirror room installations paired alongside a selection of other works including paintings from My Eternal Soul. Kusama’s is best known for her work that showcases repetitive pattern, which stems from hallucinations she has had her entire life as a method of coping through traumatic experiences. She began creating these universes in her mind to create her own “self-obliteration.”
“One day I was looking at the red flower patterns of the tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room, my body and the universe. I felt as if I had begun to self-obliterate, to revolve in the infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space, and be reduced to nothingness. As I realized it was actually happening and not just in my imagination, I was frightened. I knew I had to run away lest I should be deprived of my life by the spell of the red flowers. I ran desperately up the stairs. The steps below me began to fall apart and I fell down the stairs straining my ankle.” – Yayoi Kusama.
It’s difficult to not feel completely engulfed when you step into one of Kusama’s Infinity Rooms. The use of light, the feeling of endless space, and repetitive pattern can almost take over your sight and mind. I think one of my favorite rooms was All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, which is a recent work of 2016. I’m so thrilled that the exhibition was repaired and open for my visit. You’re greeted by neon yellow light and surrounded by dotted pumpkins and mirrors. It matches her giant Pumpkin sculpture located on the museum’s grounds outdoors.
My second favorite room is the Obliteration Room, which marks the conclusion of the exhibition and is interactive. You’re handed a sheet of dot stickers and you are able to place them anywhere you’d like in the white room. It started as a completely blank canvas and is not beaming with colored dots. Of course, I chose the piano to place my dots! I can’t wait to see how full it is at the conclusion of the exhibition.
The Hirshhorn has taken on a huge undertaking in running this particularly exhibition as the lines are long and it’s drawing in the atypical museum-goer. People are armed with their cameras and groups of friends completely not paying attention at all. The rooms are particularly small and the work can be fragile. You are only allowed 20 seconds in the rooms, which is frankly just not enough time, but standard for all of her room installations that are particularly busy. I went through the line a couple of times for some of the rooms, which does make the exhibition time quite lengthy. With that being said, I think they are doing a great job tackling these challenges by offering a timed ticket in order to keep the crowds down. You can book your online ticket exactly one week ahead of time and there are also tickets available the same-day in the morning. It is hard to get tickets, but if you can it’s worth it.
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is testing the boundaries and completely rocking it.