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Losing myself at Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Rooms

Updated: Jul 21, 2021

Going to Tate Modern is always a pleasure. You get devoured by art and it’s what I love the most. I have been countless time and I get excited every single time, like it’s the first time. Going this time was even better since it was to see Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition: Infinity Mirror Rooms.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms is a rare chance to experience two major installations alongside fascinating early documentation of Kusama's experimental performances and events, as well as a brand-new sculptural work that continues the theme of endless replication. The exhibition is so rare that tickets are sold out until October 2022.

The exhibition features Infinity Mirrored Room - Filled with the Brilliance of Life, one of Kusama's largest installations to date and originally created for her 2012 retrospective at Tate Modern. In this immersive work, mirrored walls and a shallow pool of water endlessly multiply a constellation of tiny, suspended lights to create a feeling of infinite space. Once you walk into the room, you walk into a parallel world within yourself, a world you can only see. The longer you look into the mirrors, the more depth and distance you see. It’s almost possible to disappear though not quite - the problem with mirrors is that you can’t escape yourself. Have you ever been somewhere you really didn’t want to be in, yet you couldn’t escape? That was the feeling.

I remember attending the same exhibition at The Broad in Los Angeles a couple of years ago and it’s still surreal, you walk into a magical place filled with thousands colourful lights, relaxing and empowering.

This is shown alongside Chandelier of Grief, another whole-room installation in which the viewer disappears into a seemingly boundless universe of rotating chandeliers. I felt like you had more empty space in here, a place you could breathe.

Visitors are also be able to experience The Universe as Seen from the Stairway to Heaven 2021, Kusama's brand new 'peep in' sculpture, which has been created especially for this exhibition. Deploying both mirrors and the colourful 'dot' motif, it recalls the iconic early work Kusama's Peep Show or Endless Love Show 1966. The work demonstrates Kusama's life-long obsession with concept of infinite repetition, exploiting the formal properties of mirrors to create the illusion of limitless space.

The installations are accompained by videos and photographs of how the global phenomenon that Kusama's mirror rooms have become today. Photographs by Eikoh Hosoe (born 1933) and the partnership Harry Shunk (1924-2006) and Janos Kender (1937-2009) explore how Kusama subverted the notion of the artist's studio.

The exhibition also includes recently rediscovered film footage by the British academic John Jones (1926-2010) of Kusama in her New York studio in the mid-1960s - a unique, moving image testimony that records the artist's earliest sculptural works and confirms her simultaneously as a torch bearer for surrealism and an unparalleled artistic force in her own right.

The most amazing moment of my attendance was seeing a lot of families with kids at the exhibition. There is something exciting about seeing kids exploring and getting closer to art and Infinity Mirror Rooms is definitely a great choice to start from.

But who is Yayoi Kusama? Born in Japan in 1929, Yayoi Kusama came to international attention in 1960s New York for a wide-ranging creative practice that has encompassed installation, painting, sculpture, fashion design and writing. The artist has been the subject of monographic exhibitions around the world, including a major travelling retrospective initiated by Tate Modern in 2012, and forthcoming presentations at the New York Botanical Garden and the Gropius Bau in Berlin, both in 2021. Since the 1970s Kusama has lived in Tokyo, where she continues to work prolifically and to international acclaim. An interesting fact about the artist: Kusama has been open about her mental health. She says that art has become her way to express her mental problems. She reported in the interview she did with Infinity Net "I fight pain, anxiety, and fear every day, and the only method I have found that relieved my illness is to keep creating art”

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms is curated by Frances Morris, Director, Tate Modern and Katy Wan, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. The exhibition will be accompanied by a learning programme, as well as community engagement events supported by Bank of America.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms” is open now at Tate Modern, and will run until June 12, 2022. Tickets can be accessed through the Tate Modern site.

Words by: Sal F.

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