The Art of Illusion
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
“Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos.” – Yayoi Kusama
I had the opportunity to see and experience the Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirschhorn Museum on Friday, just a week before it travels to a new city. This exhibit has been wildly popular and sold out for the past few months since it came to Washington, DC. I knew some people who waited in line for several hours before getting in, and others who waited in line just to learn that the museum was no longer allowing people in. Andy’s stepmom’s work assistant somehow got us 4 tickets for the show. I wore polka dots for the occasion!
Although I did not know much about Yayoi Kusama and the history of her work, I learned that she has been living in a mental institution for many years. At 88 years old, she continues to create art as a coping mechanism for her hallucinations. I am interested in reading her autobiography to learn more about her story. Her timeless work and long art career are incredibly inspiring.
Introduction video at the beginning of the exhibit
The exhibit featured several art installation rooms, each of which we had to wait in line for. There were museum attendants who allowed groups of 2-3 people into each room at a time for about 20-30 seconds (with the exception of one room where there all four of us were allowed in). I had seen pictures from other people who had been to the exhibit before, and the rooms seemed so large/seemed to go on forever. The reality was that the rooms were quite small based on their outside appearance. Only a few people were allowed in at a time because there were objects suspended from the ceiling in some cases, and there was only a short platform to stand on. Nevertheless, the rooms still gave the illusion of expanse, and I felt somewhat disoriented after stepping out from each of them.
The pictures don’t quite do the spaces justice… but I had to snap a few just to relive those brief moments. There was one installation room with several fragile pumpkins (similar to the one below, but much smaller), where we were not allowed to take photos. Apparently, some careless visitors had previously damaged a part of the display because they were taking selfies and/or dropped their phone.
The photo below was taken through a hole in a pink polka dot ball that stood about five feet tall. When looking through the hole, the artwork gave an illusion of infinite space. Again, this photo doesn’t quite have the same effect as actually looking through the hole, but it gives a pretty good idea of how it appeared!
The installations were incredible, but so were the paintings and sculptures. Much of Kusama’s work reminded me of Australian Aboriginal art, with the abstract, organic shapes, and repetition of dots. I also loved her use of color.
The grand finale and exhibit exit took us through The Obliteration Room. I loved the interactive nature of this particular space. We were handed two sheets of stickers to share between the four of us. When the exhibit first opened, the room and everything in it was completely white. As visitors have passed through over the past few months, they have added stickers to different parts of the room. It was like an explosion of color when we went through!
It’s not often that art exhibits are as interactive as this one. It was an experience I will never forget!