Tentacles and polka dots in the iconic artist’s ‘Infinity Space’ | Entertainment
MIAMI (AP) – The Pérez Art Museum Miami’s latest installation doesn’t look like much at first glance. It’s a big white box standing in a gallery, in front of which a line of people are waiting, each with a special ticket.
But once the box’s door opens, you feel like you’re being blasted into space, dodging rainbow-dotted alien tentacles. As the door closes behind you, the darkened space is illuminated by the inflatable soft sculptures, which glow and change color. Your image in the mirrors multiplies and disappears as you walk slowly, careful not to touch the inflatable objects that sprout from the floor and dangle from the ceiling. The closed space goes on for eternity.
The only sound you hear — aside from the faint hum of the engines keeping the tentacles inflated — is the voice of iconic contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama reciting her poem “Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears” in Japanese. For two minutes, you’ll be completely immersed in Kusama’s LOVE IS CALLING, a psychedelic mirrored “Infinity Room” she produced in 2013.
The installation, the artist’s largest mirror room, opened to the public at PAMM last Thursday. It can be seen until February 2024. Guests wishing to see the installation must request an admission ticket (at no additional cost) at the museum’s reception desk. A handful of people are allowed into the immersive space at a time.
“I think now is the time to dedicate my heart to you, my love,” Kusama reads from her poem. “Was the beauty of the end of life nothing more than an illusion? Would you answer that for me?”
It’s the first time PAMM is showing one of Kusama’s pieces, said Assistant Curator Jennifer Inacio. PAMM has been in talks with ICA Boston since 2019 to bring “LOVE IS CALLING” to Miami, she said.
“(We were) just thinking about our visitors and what they might be interested in – a fun, really exciting installation,” said Inacio. “And at a good time as everyone is coming back from the last three difficult years.”
Kusama, 93, is one of the best known and most respected living artists in the world. Born in Matsumoto, Japan in 1929, she studied formal Japanese painting techniques and built an international career spanning decades. Her work has been exhibited around the world. In Miami, the Rubell Museum in Allapattah is home to several Kusama pieces, including “Narcissus Garden,” a river of 700 mirrored stainless steel spheres that flows through the museum’s hallway.
“We are thrilled to present ‘LOVE IS CALLING’ at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, a perfect home for a work that connects people from all walks of life,” said PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans in a statement.
Kusama has been open about her struggles with mental illness and how it is reflected in her artwork. In the 1970s she voluntarily committed herself to a psychiatric clinic in Tokyo, where she has lived ever since. Her repetitive motifs were inspired by childhood hallucinations that made everything appear patterned. Her signature polka dots represent the concept of infinity.
Today, the artist remains active in art and fashion and is largely considered a pop culture icon.
At last year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, visitors to the booth of luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton caught a glimpse of a life-size wax sculpture of Kusama. Kusama and Louis Vuitton have collaborated twice, first in 2012 and now again with a new collection. (The opening of “LOVE IS CALLING” at PAMM comes just a week before Louis Vuitton uses the museum for an invitation-only trunk show for its spring-summer 2023 collection for women, according to the Miami New Times.)
Kusama was an influential force in the immersive art movement that emerged in the ’60s, Inacio said. She is the only artist with an immersive artwork on display at PAMM. (The museum is currently showing immersive artworks by several Latin American male artists, such as the blue outdoor sculpture by Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto and the “Liminal” exhibition by Argentine artist Leandro Erlich.) An artist as important as Kusama deserves recognition at the museum, Inacio added.
Their “Infinity Rooms” are iconic in their own right. Since 1965, Kusama has produced more than 20 immersive mirrored rooms featuring rows of hanging lights, dotted balloons, dotted pumpkins, and dotted phallic objects. 2013’s LOVE IS CALLING was the last time Kusama did an Infinity Room until recently. In May, she will present a new mirror space during a solo show at the David Zwirner gallery in New York City.
The rooms have gone viral on social media and have been popping up on Instagram and TikTok feeds for years. Since Kusama’s “Infinity Rooms” are mirrored, viewers are physically inserted into the artwork. You can’t take a picture of LOVE IS CALLING without taking a picture of yourself.
“The feeling of being able to be a part of the art instead of just looking at the art on the wall gives that idea of accessibility, I think,” Inacio said. “You can be it, you can be a part of it, you can be there instead of staying away from it.”
Kusama’s work is very poetic, Inacio said. As the viewer is immersed in the otherworldly installation, they can reflect on the meaning of love and its place in the universe.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Inacio. “Its magical.”
Inacio suggested visitors resist the temptation to take lots of photos, at least 60 seconds long. She recommended spending the first minute absorbing the room and its illusion of endless space.
Before the show opened, Inacio said she could view the installation on her own. The experience, which looked like she was floating alone in space, was “mind-blowing”. There’s something very existential about standing in a room full of mirrors.
“It can get very sentimental,” Inacio said. “You think, ‘What does that mean? What part do I have in all this? In the world, in love or in humanity?’ ”
So let the exhibition touch your soul, she said. And then take lots of selfies.