adhesive dots, black light, Formica, mirrors
For her project at the Mattress Factory, Kusama chose to create three new installations. Incorporating new media for the artist, her yellow and black polka-dotted room filled with huge, oddly shaped balloons, is an environment in which we seem to become smaller and loose our balance. Her two adjoining polka-dotted mirrored rooms, the largest she has ever undertaken, present infinite reflections and the contrast of cool black light and hot white light, reminiscent of the movement between hot and cool water in the traditional Japanese bath. Entering these three undulating, vibrating, seemingly endless spaces, one realizes that Kusama has indeed succeeded in bringing us into her world. Through her work, the artist powerfully evokes larger questions of individual identity, perception of reality, and the permeability of boundaries between the self and the outer world. Open a black, double door into a space with mirrored ceilings and walls. The white formica floor is covered with three sizes of colored fluorescent dots. The room is filled with black light. Reflected on ceiling and walls, you are an integral part of the space.
A mirror is a device which obliterates everything including myself and others in the light of another world or a gallant apparatus which creates nothingness.
My ominous recollection: one day, I was looking at a tablecloth covered in red flowers, which was spread out on the table. Then I looked up towards the ceiling. There, on the windows and even on the pillars, I would see the same red flowers. They were all over the place in the room, my body, and entire universe. I finally came to a self-obliteration and returned to be restored to the infinity of eternal time and the absoluteness of space. I was not having a vision. It was a true reality. I was astounded. Unless I got out of here, the curse of those flowers will seize my life! I ran frantically up the stairs. As I looked down, the sight of each step falling apart made me stumble. I fell all the way down the stairs and sprained my leg.
Dismantling and accumulating, proliferating and separating, the sense of obliterating and the sounds from the invisible cosmos. What are all these things?
A passage to Another World. Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese master painter, sculptor, performance, and installation artist, began her artistic career in the 1950's. She lived and worked in New York City from the late 1950's through the early 1970's, where she was an influential participant in the avant-garde scene. Since her return to Tokyo, Kusama has lived by her own choice in a psychiatric hospital, maintaining an off-site studio with a staff of assistants. Her struggle with mental illness and "normalcy" is channeled into her work, which is all-consuming. Overflowing with repeating anthropomorphic shapes and patterns, her imagery recreates fantastic vision that only she can see. Like her artistic peers Joseph Beuys and Louise Bourgeois, Kusama has created transcendent work from an idiosyncratic personal vision pursued over the course of a lifetime. All of her work has come from a waking vision in which she sat at a table covered with a floral tablecloth, in a room covered with floral wallpaper, and saw that her hands, too, were covered with flowers. Her work explores the obliteration of the self, as the viewer becomes part of the work, reflected in mirrors, obstructed by organic forms, almost as if being sucked into the walls. Kusama's work has been seen in numerous exhibitions in the United States, Europe and Japan and she was the first artist to represent Japan with a solo show at the 1993 Venice Biennale.