NYC Vignettes: The Gallery Scene, Yayoi Kusama

December 7, 2013

Yayoi Kusama's exhibit, I Who Have Arrived in Heaven

Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit, I Who Have Arrived in Heaven

It took me two days and over two hours standing in line for my 45-second timed-entry in the infinity mirrored room that was the showcase of Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit in the Chelsea gallery of David Zwirner.  And the wait was worth it.

It turned out to be quite an adventure to get in to see this free exhibit by the 85-year-old Kusama, a Japanese artist.  The first time I attempted to see it there was already a line for the mirrored infinity room called The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.  This installation was being shown for the first time, and was quite an attraction.

Since I had an appointment for lunch with my nephew, I didn’t have time to wait in line then, but instead viewed Kusama’s paintings and a second mirrored infinity room called Love Is Calling.  The paintings reminded me somewhat of Australian aboriginal art.




The gallery handout described the Love Is Calling room as “one of Kusama’s most immersive, kaleidoscopic environments to date.  It is composed of a darkened, mirrored room illuminated by inflatable, tentacle-like forms — covered in the artist’s characteristic polka dots — that extend from the floor and ceiling, gradually changing colors.”


IMAGE_668I thought I might get in to see the second infinity room after lunch, but when I returned, the line was longer than before.  I waited about 30 minutes, and my forward progress was almost nil.  I decided I would try again first thing the next morning.

The gallery was scheduled to open at 10:00 a.m., and when I arrived at 9:25, there was already a line.

The line when I arrived.

The line when I arrived.

Waiting in line

Waiting in line

These New Yorkers have a thing about waiting in lines.  I guess it’s almost inevitable given how many people reside in the city.  I, like several others, had brought breakfast with me — a latte from the Chelsea Market and half of a leftover bagel with cream cheese.  I noticed that no matter how long the wait, no one sat down on the sidewalk!  I also noticed that I was by far the oldest person in line.  Everyone was good natured and patient.  I was resolved not to give up.

Every single person ahead of me was entitled to 45 seconds in the infinity mirrored room, The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, so I progressed in a slow, but steady pace.  One of the gallery staff monitored the door, stopwatch in hand, and kept the line moving.

You could get a preview glimpse inside when the door opened

You could get a preview glimpse inside when the door opened

Finally it was my turn.  I was in a mirrored room standing on a short projection into a shallow reflecting pool of water.  Multi-colored LED lights flickered and changed color in the darkened room, giving the feeling of being in infinite space, surrounded on all sides by thousands of stars.  The 45 seconds was too short.  I left with regret, but thankful to have had this fleeting experience.



When I left, the line outside was even longer.


You can read more about Kusama and her exhibit here and here and here.






6 Responses to “NYC Vignettes: The Gallery Scene, Yayoi Kusama”

  1. Renee Says:

    I live in New York City (Queens) and once again you are reminding me of all that I am missing out in my own city. This exhibit looks incredible. Where did you find out about this

    • Rosemary Says:

      I heard about it first in one of the blogs I subscribe to: improvised I asked the same question of a young woman in line, and she said that she read about it in the Huffington Post. I’ve put links to these in my post.

  2. Adrienne Says:

    thanks for sharing. I’m constantly amazed at the avenues artistic minds travel.

  3. Vilatelle Mathieu Brigitte Says:

    A big pleasure to discover again your pictures about this artist

  4. Karin Says:

    Wish I could see that exhibition with my own eyes!

  5. […] another of her shows at a New York art gallery.  You can see my write-up about that experience here.  Back then, I stood in line for entry to the sole Infinity Mirror room, and my 45-second time […]

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