I visited the Victoria Miro gallery in Islington on a rainy Wednesday lunchtime. I had heard about the Yayoi Kusama installation and having been too young to see her work the last time it was exhibited in London, I thought I’d check it out.
After queuing for 10-15 mins, I went upstairs to find 3 polished bronze pumpkins. They are large, medium and small sizes. If there were pumpkins in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, this is what they should’ve looked like. Then I queued again for roughly 10 mins for the mirrored room.
‘All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins’ is a mirrored room filled with glowing, yellow and black plastic pumpkins. It’s like a halloween room made for selfies. You get 30 seconds in this room alone and are timed by an attendant with a stopwatch. It’s quite wonderful and probably my favourite part of the gallery because in this room you forget how few pumpkins you are surrounded by and focus on the neverending effect.
This is Kusama’s first mirror pumpkin room since 1991 when she created a room filled with small pumpkins for the 1993 Venice Biennale.
‘Chandelier of Grief’ looks like a plain hexagonal box from the outside, you enter this room with 2 or 3 others. This room reminded me a bit of a changing room in a luxury department store; mirrors everywhere and the most forgiving of lighting. In the middle of the room hangs a large chandelier that spins and has a strobe light in the middle.
It really is beautiful. You will feel like you’re surrounded by 100 chandeliers and camera flashes. It’s what I would imagine someone like Mariah Carey’s closet to look like. You get a little longer in this room too.
‘Where the Lights in My Heart Go’ is outside in the garden. Much like the other installations, it looks like an odd shaped box. This one however is stainless steel on the outside and so creates a sort of mirror for the garden. It was closed when I went due to bad weather (it hasn’t stopped raining in London for weeks). I asked someone what was in the box and she said the room has lots of small holes to allow light in, making you feel like you’re amongst the stars. Yayoi Kusama has referred to it as a “subtle planetarium”.
Also in the garden and beside the stainless steel box is Kusama’s 1966 installation of floating stainless steel spheres, ‘Narcissus Garden’. Narcissus Garden was first seen at the 33rd Venice Biennale, when Kusama referred to the work as a “kinetic carpet”. She famously began selling each sphere for 1,200 lire (around £0.52 or 0.67 euros). Other versions of Narcissus Garden have been featured internationally at venues such as: Le Consortium, Dijon (2000), Kunstverein Braunschweig (2003), at the Whitney Biennial (2004), and at the Jardin de Tuileries (2010).
I’d recommend going to the gallery either at lunchtime or after work as the queues weren’t too bad on a weekday lunchtime, but I think they’ll be rather tedious on the weekend. Don’t forget your selfie game!
Yayoi Kusama: sculptures, paintings & mirror rooms
Victoria Miro – 16 Wharf Road, N1 7RW
Open Tues-Sat 10am to 6pm until 30th July 2016