October 27, 2017

Exorcising the Infinite Demons

I went back to The Broad this week, despite the fact that I'd previously written that it was a one-trick pony inside a cool facade.

I stand behind that statement—I just love the outside of this museum, especially with the colorful crosswalk intervention "Couleur Additive" by Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez that's been recently installed as part of the Pacific Standard Time collective of exhibitions.

And the "one trick" that I previously referenced—Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room: The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away" (2013)—is a damn good one, even the second time around.

But there's something more behind these seemingly novel installations by the 88-year-old Japanese contemporary artist, like the hot pink and black polka dotted "Dots Obsession—Love Transformed Into Dots" (2007).

Kusama—who has lived in a mental hospital in Japan since 1977, some say by choice—could be exorcising her demons through art. Exactly what those demons are—or what their origin—we don't exactly know. Wearing bright red and pink wigs and lipstick, Kusama has become a cosplay version of herself—a mysterious one that's reached almost mythic proportions.

She does talk about the fact that early in life, she suffered a number of hallucinations—some of which included the incessant polka dots. At some point, she saw herself transform into a dot. And then she realized that the planet we live on is just one dot in a universe that's so vast, it's infinite.

You could say that with pieces like her "Love Forever" Infinity Mirrored Room, she's coming to terms with her own mortality—but it seems to be more about reconciling the past rather than looking to the future.

At some point, she took control of the hallucination, appropriated it, and defused it. If the dots were, at first, scary, she took the power out of them by surrounding herself with them. But, given the results, it's no surprise that among her demons, she counts anxiety and OCD.

And in the final room of the "Infinity Mirrors" special exhibition at The Broad, called "The Obliteration Room," you're allowed to express your own obsessive-compulsive tendencies and exorcise your own demons by plastering a room that's been painted stark white with a number of multicolored, adhesive dots.

Ultimately, every surface will be covered by the dots—but this room isn't about the end result. It's about the process of harnessing what we generally consider a "defect" and turning it into something that's crazily beautiful.

I went on the fourth day that the exhibit was open, so there was still a lot of white negative space to choose from—but already, the different sized dots create the illusion of outer space, or even traveling through space, perhaps infinitely.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: The Broad Museum & Its One Big Draw
Standing in the Rain Without Getting Wet
A Tale of One Dress
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