Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors

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The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, Yayoi Kusama

Last week, I had the chance to check out Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. These tickets had been hard to come by; my opportunity to attend was only thanks to a good friend at work. Otherwise, I was always 492,915th in the queue every time a new block of tickets were released online.

There’s been a lot of buzz around Kusama’s work and Torontonians have spent months eagerly awaiting the exhibit’s grand opening. I had only ever spied Kusama’s work from the lucky few who had visited The Broad in Los Angeles and shared their mystifying images of The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away on Instagram. More than anything, I wanted to know if standing in the middle of a dark room surrounded by what really seems like an infinite number of twinkling lights would be as magical a feeling as I’d imagined. (Spoiler alert: it was.)

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Our timed entry to the exhibit was late on a Friday afternoon, but you are guaranteed to wait 15 to 20 to 30 minutes in line for each infinity room, regardless of the time and day of week you went. Once inside, you’ll have 20-30 seconds. Most rooms only accept groups of 3 at a time (never just one person), so get ready for a single-rider-style line and to make new friends for about 30 seconds at each room.

This is my only criticism of the exhibit, which has absolutely nothing to do with the exhibit or the AGO, and has everything to do with the power of PR and buzz-worthy art. 30 seconds is not enough time to truly absorb a piece of work. I envy the AGO employees who have almost certainly snuck into the rooms after closing and spent more than a minute in each one.

My recommendation is to carve out at least 3 hours to experience the exhibit in full – this includes the infinity rooms and assorted art pieces hung on the walls throughout the experience. Plus, once you’re in, you’re in until closing. If there’s a room you really love and you’re not in a rush to leave, why not line up again to experience the room once more?

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Still, when you’re in good company, the waits never feel too arduous. And the exhibit provides small snippets to read and quotes to ponder over as you stand in line, learning about Kusama’s life, her inspirations, and her complicated relationship with sex (read: fear of). My friends and I were surprised by the amount of phallic imagery in Kusama’s work (granted, this was only a surprise because we hadn’t done much research prior to the trip). It did bring to the forefront that everybody’s relationship with sex is different. And we thought “tubers” was a funny word.

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Phalli’s Field, Yayoi Kusama

My favourite rooms were definitely the dark cosmic ones, which literally transport you into space and onto a different plane. I could feel my soul expanding beyond the reaches of the room and into the deep depths of the mirrors. The real sense of endlessness was freeing.

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Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, Yayoi Kusama

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Life (Repetitive Vision), Yayoi Kusama

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Love Forever, Yayoi Kusama

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Dots Obsession – Love Transformed into Dots, Yayoi Kusama

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Dots Obsession – Love Transformed into Dots, Yayoi Kusama

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At the end, you’ll have a chance to make your own mark on an infinity room. Each guest is given a sheet of polka dot stickers and you have free reign to stick them anywhere you’d like. You can even sit on the dotted furniture. As someone who’s always compelled to touch things in museums, this room really tickled my fancy.

DSC08832-2The Obliteration Room, Yayoi Kusama

Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit is on at the AGO until May 27th, 2018. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets, it’s worth the fantasmic pop art stimulation to the senses.

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