Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden in Rockaway .
Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, is known for her mesmerizing polka-dot installations and immersive mirrored ‘infinity’ rooms. Kusama is recognized in Japan and abroad for her artwork, as well as novels and poetry, that are often inspired by her neurosis, her experience of hallucinations and the ego. Her hallucinations often featured polka-dots that would completely swallow up her world and herself, into a space she saw as an infinity. This is reflected in her obsession with polka-dots, mirrors, and self-portraits.
Kusama is exhibiting her famous work, Narcissus Garden, in Rockaway, Queens as a part of the New York MoMA’s public art festival this summer, Rockaway!. Narcissus Garden is made up of over one thousand stainless steal orbs, of about 30 centimetres in diameter, that reflect the world around them. In previous shows they have been placed on water floating and moving with the wind, however this summer they will be arranged in the T9 building in Fort Tilden. This particular work was one of Kusama’s break through pieces that help launch her career 50 years ago at the Venice Biennale. Although she was uninvited, she proceeded to set up the orbs in a traditional golden kimono, and sell them for two dollars a piece next to a sign reading “Your Narcissism for Sale”. Although, Biennale officials finally stopped her from selling the orbs, her installation remained, and her mark in the art world was made.
In 1966, this was a performance piece speaking to the commodification of art, as well confronting viewers with their own distorted reflection, multiplied in the many orbs. Today, this oeuvre takes on a new meaning, the orbs that once where of cheap plastic now are made from expensive metal. It has been re-invented in different spaces and institutions, signalling its shift from critical performance piece to a valuable commodity itself. Whether or not this diminishes it’s subversive potential, Narcissus Gardens remains a striking installation and thought provoking piece to view. The show will open in Rockaway on September 3rd.