By: Justin Jang
Photos by: Christine Zhang
From February 23rd to May 14th, the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit begins its North American tour here in DC at the Hirshhorn Museum. The exhibition is an introspective examination of the storied, 65-year career of artist Yayoi Kusama, including both her earliest works from when she first came to the United States and her later pieces created after her return to her native country of Japan. As the exhibit looks at the span of Kusama’s career, important pieces of artwork are placed side-by-side with historical documents of her settling in the United States, as well as praise, recollections, and testimonials of her contemporaries. Her legacy has served as profound inspiration for many great artists, including Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst.
Yayoi Kusama is famous today for her psychedelic pop art pieces, first created in the 1950s. Her minimalist and abstract works are most often recognized for the polka dot motif that is featured in so many of her paintings, sculptures, and installations. For Kusama, painting serves as an outlet to work through her mental and nervous conditions. Her voluntary admission to a psychiatric hospital in 1977 is indicative of these conditions, which still affect her today.
The exhibition contains numerous works from different points in Kusama’s career, though the highlight is most certainly the Infinity Mirror rooms placed throughout the exhibit. These small, closed rooms use the reflective nature of mirrors to effectively create a world within a box, each room representing an important milestone in Kusama’s career. The resulting experience is remarkably beautiful and unbelievably surreal, as the room and its contents are projected infinitely. Visitors arm themselves with cameras to enter these closed spaces and take memorable photos of what may very well be the most Instagram-able location of the season.
Due to its high popularity, you are not able to simply walk up and enter the exhibition. There are a set number of passes provided on the Monday of every week between the exhibition dates, at 11:00 AM on the Hirshhorn Museum’s website, in addition to a small number of walk-up passes that are usually claimed quickly. Even a pass, however, will not guarantee swift and easy access to the exhibit. During peak weekend times, extremely long lines will delay entrance to the building, along with another line to access the exhibit once inside, followed by more lines to view each individual Infinity Mirror room. Prepare to wait for extended periods of time on a weekend, or plan your trip on a less-crowded weekday.
In the end, the exhibit is undoubtedly worth the wait. This is likely the only DC exhibition that Yayoi Kusama will have in the foreseeable future, so do not miss out on a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors certainly is the must-see exhibition of the spring.
JUSTIN JANG is a sophomore in the SFS currently pursuing a Culture and Politics major. During his free time, he likes to box, cook, and rewatch old James Bond films. When asked what his favorite movie is, he will undoubtedly respond “anything with Austin Powers.”