There’s another live event craze happening across the nation and its name isn’t Hamilton.
So if you haven’t been living under a rock for two years, which apparently I have in some cases, then you’ve heard of the infamous Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit. Any venue would kill (theatrically, hopefully) to have this exhibit shown because with it brings record breaking line wait times, and tickets that sell out months in advance, similar to Hamilton.
Now, Hamilton and The Infinity Mirrors have a lot in common: both genius creators are people of color, both are immersive as well as mind-blowing experiences, and each leaves you with stunning visuals that will stick with you forever. The difference sets in the spirit behind Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese contemporary artist, and the important meaning of why The Infinity Mirrors exist.
To start with, there are more than 90 artworks that make up the Infinity Mirrors inclusive exhibit. These artworks range from full scale paintings to intricate statues, to the permanent out of this world installations of the infinity mirrors.
Now, there are many words I’ve heard to describe the infinity mirrors exhibit – spectacular, spiritual, acid trip.
My one word take away? Dots.
…because there are a ton of them! But, Yayoi Kusama didn’t receive wide recognition just from placing a bunch of random dots anywhere. These dots helped Yayoi Kusama make sense of the world she lived in, and like most great art it helps us funnel through whatever negative emotions we’re processing and turn it into something amazing.
Yayoi was born in the special city Matsumoto in Japan. Her upbringing was one of tension and strife, as she was noted to have an intense and strict mother, and a womanizing father. Yayoi remembers her mother making her spy on her father’s extramarital affair, and by spy she meant watch “everything”. You can see how this, coupled with her troubled upbringing could breed a range of troubled emotions: from experiencing vivid hallucinations, to a fear of sex itself.
Yayoi states the only way she could work through her mental state was to begin placing dots as far as the eye can see, sometimes arbitrarily or well placed. These dots—or infinity nets—is how Yayoi feels like everyone and everything is connected even into the infinite universe! But, placing these million dots can get quite tiring—especially for a one-woman show—so Yayoi immediately thought mirrors. How else could you continue to multiply these dots on their own for literally an endless amount of time? Reflection is the best answer, and thus the infinity mirrors were born!
There are over 20 installation rooms that are placed all over the world. Each room has a different meaning that resides within it, and each one you step into feels like it adds 10 years onto your life. She pioneered the start of this exhibit with Phallis Field: a room filled with red dots on white surfaces which essentially combines the rough sewn materials with the reflective space on the mirror creating an entire immersive experience. Other infamous rooms are The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away and Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity. Both of these rooms utilize the use of LED lights and it an outer body experience to say the least.
Million of Light Years away places you in the center of the universe and for a second you lose all sense of time. This ethereal feeling overtakes you, as Yayoi says she created this room for audiences to contemplate their existence, and their place in the universe.The Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity however is the opposite and not so much reflecting on life as reflecting on the after life. This room is filled with gold LED lights, strikingly divine, and contrasted with the void of blackness, makes you feel like you’re about to step into nirvana.
The gold LEG lights also serve a symbolic purpose: the traditional Toro Nagashi ceremony in Japan. This ceremony literally lights up the rivers of Japan as loved ones send golden lanterns to guide their ancestral spirits on their journey. Once inside this room, it’s an extremely intimate and surreal experience that will leave you captivated and never wanting to leave.
One of my favorite installations is All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins! This room brings you nothing but joy and is a huge testament to Yayoi Kusama’s familial roots. She grew up around seeds as her parents would cultivate and sell them for a living. After encountering a pumpkin, they grew near and dear to her heart, and have populated her signature artwork almost as much as dots have. The golden pumpkins provide a sense of whimsical and fanciful nature, where you you feel like your walking more through wonderland, golden pumpkin yellow brick road, than contemplating your fate.
And as if placing you in the center of the mirrors aren’t enough Yayoi has a room specifically designed for those who come to see her exhibit. By specifically designed I mean entering into a room that is stark white with nothing on it. Yayoi Kusama has purposely designed a room setup to resemble a living room complete with a dining room table and couch seating area. The only job required of the goers are to take different color, sizes, and shaped polka dots (handed to you by the exhibit workers) and place them wherever you like. That’s right! This is the one room where you’re allowed and encouraged to put your own stamp of art onto the art work before you. The only rule is to have no pattern in your placement of the dots.
Yayoi Kusama wants her audience to wholeheartedly participate in the creation of placing dots arbitrarily, and experiencing the freeing sense it gives. When you place your dot down, you know you are now connected among the millions who have made their own mark on the exhibit, as well as connected to infinite possibilities and the universe itself.
The rest of the rooms are as endless as Yayoi’s imagination and legendary masterpieces. Her story is one of awe and inspiration, as she took the tumultuous parts of her childhood and turned it into something nothing short of extraordinary. Each room provides you with an experience unlike any other, and allows you to derive whatever meaning from it you will, just like any great art medium will do.
Yayoi Kusama has since returned to Japan, and is still kicking butt and taking names by cranking out art at the impresive age of 89.
Her artwork will continue to inspire many a generation as she leads you into the astral plane time and time again.
So, if there’s an opportunity to see any of these pieces, hurry and grab your ticket because its time to go infinity and beyond!