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Visiting Yayoi Kusama's exhibition at the Tate

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist and writer, who has created paintings, sculptures, performances and installations throughout her career.

There were many photographs in the first room of the exhibition allowing the viewers to get to know Kusama and her work. The images in this room depict key moments in Kusama’s life and career. She has regularly had herself photographed with her works. Carefully staged images place her at the centre of her creative universe.

Sculpture ‘The Universe as seen from the Stairway to Heaven’

From early in her life, Kusama has experienced visual hallucinations and uses experiences like these in her art as a way of making sense of them and sharing them with others. This particular sculpture is based on a hallucination where she felt as though she was disappearing or dissolving into repeating patterns that had surrounded her after seeing the pattern initially on a tablecloth. She described this feeling as ‘self-obliteration’. Mirrors, dots and repetition have long been important aspects of Kusama’s work. This is one of her most recent sculptures, made specially for this exhibition. It recalls her first mirror installation, Kusama’s Peep Show or Endless Love Show 1966.

Kusama’s sculpture specifically intrigued me for this project through her way of playing with the image of oneself and others. When me and my friend walked around we were able to glance through the circles into the mirrored sculpture. The space inside the square seems to be infinite. Not only do you see your own face, but faces of other visitors are reflected alongside colourful circles. The use of mirrors makes the audience become a part of Kusama’s work and forms a relationship between subject and object.


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