Since 1965, Kusama has been creating her mirrored infinity rooms. Her earliest installations included soft sculptures of phalluses. Hmm. Even her "Love is Calling" creations reminded me of Cappadocia. (Google it if you don't know what I'm talking about.)
The polka dots are Kusama's real signature, though. She includes them in nearly all her artwork. According to a wall card, Kusama considers both the polka dot and infinity to "signify the relationship between mortals and the unknown expanse of the universe."
|Can you spot me in this infinity room?|
I certainly felt I had become one with her somewhat dizzying world. When you enter the room, the doors are shut so you are wholly immersed. The sculptures change colors as the seconds tick past. The shifting colors give you the sense the sculptures are undulating as you move around them. The mirrors give the room a fun-house feel; you almost lose track of which side is up.
Throughout the viewing, you hear Kusama reciting a poem she wrote entitled Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears. Kusama's recitation is in Japanese, so for me it added to the sense that I'd been dropped into another world. An English translation appears outside the room and begins,
having put on years, death seems to be quietly approaching
It was not supposed to be my style to be frightened of that, but I am...."
When I exited the room with my nine fellow viewers, my head was spinning -- not necessarily in a good way. Two minutes was plenty. Notwithstanding my lingering headache, I'm glad to have experienced a Kusama Infinity Room. And it was definitely that -- an experience.
To read more about Kusama and why she's become such a star in the artworld, click here. And for a fascinating article about the history of immersive installations, including an exhibit created more than 200 years ago by Jacques-Louis David, click here.
Kusama's "Love Is Calling" Infinity Room will be on display at the Tampa Museum of Art through February 14. Click here for further information and tickets.