In an article in the New York Times last March, writer Emily Palmer asked, “Is That Yayoi Kusama Selfie Worth the Wait?” She was referring to Kusama’s highly anticipated exhibit, Infinity Mirrors, and, with a current stop at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Torontonians now have a chance to find out.
Toronto is the fourth stop on the installation’s six-city tour, a show that, since its debut at the Broad museum in Los Angeles in 2015 has been inciting Instagram frenzies and online ticket queues that run 13 to 14 hours long. The Washington Post even published a survival guide to the show (top tips: eat before you go and wear comfortable shoes, because you’ll be standing for a while) to help prepare visitors for the experience. We thought it was a clever idea, so we’re doing the same. Ready to tackle Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors in the Six? Here’s what you need to know.
Who is Yayoi Kusama anyway?
It’s hard to believe that an 88-year-old Japanese artist is the driving force behind all the 21st century social media madness surrounding the exhibit, but indeed the Infinity Mirrors creator was born more than eight decades before Instagram even made it’s debut.
The eccentric artist (seldom seen without her trademark bright red wig) works primarily in sculpture and installation, with a particular affinity for spreading nets, phalluses, and polka dots on every available surface. In 2012 Kusama partnered with Louis Vuitton on the most extensive artist collaboration the fashion house had ever commissioned. In 2016 Time magazine named her one of the world’s most influential people. Her first experiment with mirrors, Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, 1965, makes a new appearance at the AGO exhibit as Infinity Room #1, proving that good art never goes out of style.
What’s included in the exhibit?
In total, the AGO exhibit features six “infinity rooms” created by Kusama, and more than 90 other pieces including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and rare archival materials.
Described as an “immersive” experience, the exhibit invites visitors to “participate in extraordinary and innovative explorations of time and space”; to “immerse yourself in kaleidoscopic environments where you will be endlessly reflected within fantastic landscapes”; or, for the more social-media minded among us, to snap the perfect selfie in what one article declared “the Instagram exhibit to end all Instagram exhibits.”
But be warned, while the mirrored rooms are highly photographed and popping up all over your social feeds, Mika Yoshitake, the show’s curator at the AGO, says the best way to experience them is to resist taking photos and simply “be in the moment.”
How can I maximize my experience?
Due to the popularity of the exhibit, the AGO has instituted a 20 to 30 second time limit in each room. Two to three people may enter at a time, and you can enter each Infinity Room only once. So whether you’re there to snap a new profile pic or simply to experience the art, be ready.
Make sure your battery is fully charged…
… and that you’ve got sufficient storage space cleared on your phone for the flurry of photos.
Plan to spend about two hours visiting the exhibit…
… with an average wait time of 20 minutes between each room.
Eat before you go…
… unless you want to see your hangry face reflected back at you in the infinite mirrored surfaces.
Make the most of your 20 to 30 seconds…
… have your camera open and ready to shoot.
Go with one or two friends…
… so you won’t have to feel awkward about asking strangers to snap the perfect Boomerang.
And just like that, you’re all set. If you can’t make it to the show, check out some awesome photos of the exhibit on BlogTO. And if you’re on the fence and wondering about the answer to Palmer’s original question, whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze, according to the NY Times author, the answer is “absolutely yes.”
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors continues at the AGO until May 27. Visit AGO.ca for more info.
Image source: Art Gallery of Ontario