Kusama and Infinity

Kusama is one of my favourite artists, and I think that this series of work is amongst my favourite in her portfolio. Here she is searching for infinity, with every surface within the environment mirrored, the fixed number of lights actually within the room is multiplied over and over, repeated in every possible surface. The audience may walk through the room, immediately, as with Turrell's work, becoming part of the piece. These rooms resemble more a fairy kingdom or outer space than anything, and I think that this fantastical environment immediately fascinates the audience. You don't have to understand the work, to enjoy it immensely, yet some small amount of understanding of the work multiplies the enjoyment and appreciation of the piece hugely, much like the lights surrounding you. In seeking infinity, I think Kusama has found something far more important. A way of expanding space, light, and the way the two interact.  

The walls and ceiling of the room are mirrored, and the floor features a shallow pool of water. Visitors walk through the room on a walkway made of mirrored tiles. Hanging from the ceiling are hundreds of small, round LED lights that flash on and off in different colour configurations. The pinpricks of light in the otherwise darkened room appear to reflect endlessly in the mirrors, giving the viewer the experience of being in an apparently endless space, broken only by points of light in the darkness.

The Infinity Mirror Rooms can be seen as the expression of Kusama’s interest in infinite, endless vision, something that can also be seen in the ‘all-over’ quality of her earlier work in painting, sculpture and installation.  The nets covering Kusama’s Infinity Net paintings repeat across the surface of the paintings, suggesting an endless lattice. The scale of the largest of these paintings is visible in an offcut measuring almost ten metres wide. Even in the early 1960s when she first exhibited these works Kusama was keen that they should overwhelm the viewer’s visual field. 

In a more recent work, I’m Here, but Nothing 2000, fluorescent sticker spots fill an ordinary living room, giving the impression of a world seen through a magical, hallucinatory veil. Likewise, the sewn stuffed appendages on the Accumulation sculptures, and the trailing soft sculpture foliage spilling out of the boxes in Heaven and Earth, are repeated to the extent that the appear to go on forever.




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