‘My cheapo garden fairy lights do this too’ – Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms

‘My cheapo garden fairy lights do this too’ – Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror RoomsMay 17, 2021

Tate Modern, London
The Japanese artist turns her visual hallucinations into a flaring and dimming clockwork universe. But I seem to be immune. Perhaps if I brought a small child or was interested in taking selfies …

All done with lights and looking glasses, Yayoi Kusama’s year-long display of Infinity Mirror Rooms is already booked-out until late October. Viewers must queue and wait, at £10 a head, for two, two-minute dives into Kusama’s universe. Hardly enough time to get your bearings, let alone lose them, which seems to be the point of her disorientating halls of mirrors.

Tate Modern says it is being relatively generous about how long viewers may spend in the artist’s installations: at some venues, visitors get only 30 seconds to adjust to her glimmering darkened spaces. Then you’re out, matey, ready or not, wowed or otherwise. Time for a selfie though, if that’s your thing. And for many, I fear, it is. Although such installations are perceptually complex and disorientating, their spectacular effects are all too readily assimilable to Instagram. This really is a bit absurd. Many people are hungry, I suppose, for some kind of transformative, mystical or even transcendental experience, and one that requires neither fasting nor drugs, let alone months or years of mental and physical preparation. Inner visions, like dreams, are no good as selfie opportunities. They’re all in your head.

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