Infinity Mirrors x Yayoi Kusama

In staying true to my weirdness, I spent the weekend in Seattle experiencing Japanese artist and pop culture pioneer, Yayoi Kusama's (yah-yoy koo-sa-ma) Infinity Mirrors exhibit.

Given it's thoughtfully curated and profoundly intentional progression of reflection and romance (and because of it's intense popularity), I purchased tickets for two consecutive days-- one day to experience it; one to capture it.

[Yes, a specifically traveled-- and travailed (but that's a different story)-- across the country for an art exhibit. Absolutely worth it.]

the artist

Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese-born artist with a short stint in the states, spent a lifetime managing her mental health. A survivor of abuse, she's lived her life through the lens of art and expression. Like many artists, she used art as a way to work through her anxieties and fears-- of which included a fear of sex and relationships.

[As a caveat, there is nothing wrong with talking about sex, especially within appropriate context, but I won't be offended if you stop reading here.] 

To help frame my reflections and gain insight on Kusama's intent, I kept her background in mind and asked myself questions around color theory, material choice and room placement throughout the exhibit. This context was uniquely helpful throughout my visit and helped frame my reflections.

It also helped create a personal context so I want to disclose that my reflections are just that-- my own. I'm not claiming to be the resident expert on her work, but I wrote this post to encourage others to view art more intimately and purposefully.

All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins

| Wood, mirror, plastic, acrylic, LED lights

Photo courtesy YAYOI KUSAMA Inc., Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo  Singapore and Victoria Miro, London (photographer: Thierry Bal) © Yayoi Kusama

Photo courtesy YAYOI KUSAMA Inc., Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo  Singapore and Victoria Miro, London (photographer: Thierry Bal) © Yayoi Kusama

Transitioning from puberty to adolescence, "All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins" embodies a teenage transition-- fighting to hold on to the blissfulness of youth (yellow) while the jaded realities of life begin to surround us (black).

A reinforced and constantly overwhelming feeling of being "misunderstood" in our teenage years, Kusama captures the beginning of our journey into battling for independence and what it means to begin to love in our youth.

The title itself seems to allude to the perception of love at this age: The certainty of eternity directed towards the unwavering devotion to... pumpkins? Seems a bit odd, but it comes together when you think of the fixation on such a seasonally exploited object aligning with the same fixation in romanctic experiences with, let's say, our first crush. We build an entire life of a smile or glance from them and think eternity is a real thing with a simple acknowledgement from them.

Kusama's enchantment with and creation of (plastic) pumpkins hints to how our encounters with love in our teenage years shape our responses to love for the rest of our lives-- deeply committed, but, at times (and more often than not) artificial.

Love Forever

| Mirrors and LED bulbs (multi-color)


A hexagonal structure clad with mirrors both in and outside, "Love Forever" allows you to began interacting with the artwork without having to walk into a specific room. You can be a spectator for as long (or as briefly) as you'd like before stepping up to one of the three openings and placing your head inside the frame.

Once there, you— just as in the other Infinity Rooms— become a part of the art installation. Only this time when you peer inside, other faces radiate inside the space along with yours. The piece immediately becomes a collaboration between the both of you peering inside. In what seems like a capsule of millions of colorful, flickering lights, the exhibit triggers the nostalgia of twinkling Christmas lights, the excitement of New Year's fireworks and the sweetness of candles on your birthday cake all at once.

Likewise with love, you can (try to) avoid it, dance around or dodge it, but eventually you're drawn to it— whether out of curiosity or necessity— and once you do finally experience it, in that moment time freezes and you feel, energized, powerful and invincible and that this love will last forever.  

Love Transformed Into Dots


Part I

| Vinyl balloons

With deeper pink hues (as opposed to an infant-like, softer pink), "Love Transformed Into Dots" seems to symbolize true(r) love. One that may be slighted tainted, but assuredly more realistic than previous love experienced in our younger years.

The room itself is a large, inflated dome covered in polka dots. Inside, large polka dot lanterns hanging at various lengths from the ceiling make you carefully maneuver throughout the space as not to disrupt them. These hanging lanterns reinforce the reality of having to navigate love, but also shed light on the principle of loving oneself first (the intense light coming from inside the lantern) and letting that love radiate towards others.

Part II

| Mixed media


This installation was one of my personal favorites not only because of the visual impact, but also because this was the moment it all ‘clicked’ for me. Where the concept of love and infinity through mirrors was solidified.

You leave the large, polka-dot domed room only to be led to the art installation outside: a smaller polka-dot dome with a peephole at the top. Inside the peephole hangs reflective domes encased, again, in a mirrored box allowing them to radiate both the pattern of the polka lighted screen above them and the opening of the peephole (forming another dot on the mini-domes).

This transition from outside-in and inside-out signals that we should allow ourselves to be both consumed by love and should also always view life through the lens of love. A concept practiced in our early youth, eroded in our young adolescence but, hopefully, restored as we experience love in adulthood.  

The Obliteration Room

| Furniture, white paint and dot stickers


Of all the rooms, the "Obliteration Room" is the most interactive.

A single sheet of dots varying in size and color is handed to you at the entrance. You are asked to place all of them whereever you'd like before you leave the room. Unlike all the previous rooms, you're encouraged to physically interact, touch and feel the objects in the space. The "home" environment, whether it be ours or ones we visit, gives nod to family, friendships and relationships forged throughout our lives.

While in the space, I thought “Why were we given dots to place in the room?” Kusama welcomes this interaction of turning Olson white furniture into art to blot out the banal existence we can fall into in life. The dots are just as those who've entered our lives (whether as permanent fixtures or just passers-by) that have added color, powerful memories and left indelible marks on our lives.

Aftermath of Obliteration

| Wood, mirror, plastic, acrylic LED lights and aluminum


Influenced by the Japanese lantern ceremony to honor and guide ancestors to the afterlife, Aftermath is the culmination of the Infinity Mirrors exhibition. Still incorporating the motifs of the previous rooms-- endless reflection and romance-- this piece represents the final stages of life.

The intentional black backdrop causes you to focus solely on the flickering lanterns that surround you, signaling solidarity, solace and the "certitude of death." It is as humbling as it is romantic with the twinkling lanterns lulling you into a reminiscent state just as in our dawning days we reflect on all memories and timeless loves.

As you can tell Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors was an overwhelmingly experiential exhibit for me.

| For those who've visited, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

| For those who plan to visit, please share your reflections!

| And for those who don't plan on visiting, I hope this post changes your mind!

*All images were photographed by me unless otherwise noted.