Aug 26, 2012


One minute was not enough, but that is all you have.  The entry door to  Fireflies on the Water is opened by a guard.  60 seconds later the door is opened again.  Your time is up.

Fireflies on Water is only one part of the Yayoi Kusama show at the Whitney Museum.  The installation consists of one hundred and fifty tiny lights suspended over a reflecting pool within a small mirrored room.
This is as close as you will get to what it would have been like to be Curiosity landing on Mars.  It's infinite space.  It's to experience the universe by walking into a room off Madison Avenue.

Kusama calls her on-going exploration = self-obliteration.  And as much as I agree with this idea; it is also the multiplicity of self. 

After one minute of spiritual, hallucinatory and disorienting space, a cup of coffee was called for before taking the elevator to the fourth floor for the rest of the exhibition.

Kusama has lived as a voluntary in-patient at a mental hospital in Japan for over 30 years.
"My art originates from hallucinations only I can see.  I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings."

Personal obsession - we all have them, but only a few of us can turn them into art.  As part of this show, an entire room is devoted documentation.  Family photographs, correspondence, gallery announcements, reviews, posters and photographs of  "happenings" are all here.  Not only is the exhibition a retrospective of Kusama's work, but the "documentation" room is an archive of two conflicting tendencies. The urge to chronicle her personal history and an equal desire for "self-obliteration."

Dots are a theme from her very early work as a teenager to the most recent paintings from 2009.  The dots Kusama says are "my medicine - my personal medicine."  Kusama's medicine is a prescription we all need in small doses.


Fireflies on the Water
Timed tickets are required for entry into Fireflies on the Water.  Per the artist's wishes, visitors must enter the installation one at a time, unless assistance or a guardian is required.  There is a one-minute time limit inside the installation.

Tickets are free with Museum admission and can only be reserved on the day of your visit at the admission desk.  The day's ticket allotment for Fireflies is distributed quickly, usually within the first two hours after the Museum opens.  Due to high demand, you may receive a time slot up to 3 or 4 hours after your arrival.

I ADVISE either joining the Whitney as a member, arriving at a quarter to 10 on weekend only and walking right into Fireflies.  Or arrving at the same time and waiting until the museum opens at 11 am and being the first in line.

The installation consists of a small dark room lined with mirrors on all sides, a pool in the center of the space, and many small lights hanging from the ceiling, creating visual effects that may be disorienting to some viewers. To experience the work, visitors must step up onto a 6-inch-high platform, pass through a 30 inch-wide doorway, and travel over a 30-inch-wide platform with no edge protection.  A  video tour is also available.


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