INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The eerie yellowish glow from polka-dotted pumpkins stretch out in a never-ending field in all directions. Pumpkins float above you and cover the ground at your feet. You’re not just standing among the bright gourds; you’re immersed in them.
That’s the magic of “Infinitely Kusama,” the newest art installation at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. The mind-bending creation that sets viewers in a sea of unending glowing pumpkins.
The full title of the work is All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins and is the work of Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese conceptual artist best known for mirror and lighting installations.
Just in time for fall, the exhibition is sure to be one of the most selfie-ready experiences in central Indiana this fall.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a Kusama installation at this museum, and I believe it’s the first time in this area,” said Michael Vetter, assistant curator of contemporary art. “Kusama has been well-known in contemporary art for a long time. But it’s only in the last few years, with the rise of Instagram and social media, that she’s become a mainstream force where a lot of people know who she is.”
Kusama, who has worked in everything from painting to fashion to poetry, rose to international fame in the 1960s for her mind-bending installations and sculptures, which consistently challenged people’s notions of time and space.
She was part of the groundbreaking avant-garde art community in New York at the time, Vetter said.
“It was really a seminal moment in pushing forward new media and thinking outside the boundaries of traditional painting and sculpture,” he said.
Her first infinity room was unveiled in the mid-1960s, ushering in art that can be interactive and surrounds you, Vetter said.
Her work also is often based on her own personality, inviting viewers into her mindset and her own experiences. Dots Obsession created an entire landscape covered in yellow with black dots. The work is meant to visually approximate the hallucinations that Kusama reportedly suffered as a child.
Narcissus Garden featured 1,500 plastic silver globes together that reflected distorted images of the people and landscape around it. The idea was to force a confrontation with vanity and ego.
“It’s not just the infinity rooms that are innovative. She’s doing conceptual art, she’s doing performance art, she’s doing an enormously varied range of things in the 1960s. She’s expanding boundaries of what art can be,” Vetter said.
Polka-dots are a repetitious theme in her work, connected to the smooth rocks in the riverbed near her childhood home as well as the hallucinations she experienced.
Pumpkins have also played an important part in her art, Vetter said. First appearing in her drawings, paintings and sculptures in the 1940s, Kusama’s inspiration behind it came from her childhood growing up on a farm where her family cultivated seeds.
The glowing gourds in All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins are based on the kabocha squash, a Japanese winter squash known for its rotund shape and unique patterns on its skin.
“It has a very autobiographical bent to it,” Vetter said.
All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins is on loan from the Dallas Museum of Art. The idea to have it at Newfields was born from a partnership between the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Dallas museum. Charles Venable, the CEO of Newfields, has a longstanding relationship with the museum and saw how popular the infinity room was to the public in Texas.
He opened up discussions about an exchange to bring it to Indiana.
“Because the response to Kusama was so great when they had it in Dallas, and because she had a big touring exhibition, there’s been a huge interest in these infinity rooms. It’s been kind of a no-brainer,” Vetter said.
The installation continues a year-long thematic look at Japan and its culture, from samurai swords to tea houses to the story of the 47 Ronin.
To organizers at the museum, the opportunity to bring an installation like this is completely unique, and one they had to take advantage of, Vetter said.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring people in who may not be familiar with contemporary art, but they know Kusama through social media. It’s a really nice way to reach different people,” Vetter said.
Infinitely Kusama will be open to the public through March 20, 2020.
Because the installation is located inside a relatively small space, entrance into it is timed. People can sign up to go into it at a certain time. Two people can enter the installation and have about 45 seconds to immerse themselves in the visuals of the piece.
Be prepared to wait if you come on weekends or during special events, Vetter said. Previous stops for the installation have had wait times that were as much as six hours.
“Everywhere these installations have gone have had a huge response,” Vetter said.
By RYAN TRARES, Daily Journal
If you go:
What: A unique immersive art installation featuring All the Eternal Love I have for the Pumpkinsby contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama.
Where: Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, 4000 Michigan Ave.
When: Through March 29, 2020
How does it work: The installation is included in admission to Newfields. Once arriving, you’ll be assigned a specific time to enter the installation. People can go in two at a time, and have about 45 seconds to take selfies, photographs and enjoy the work.
Museum hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Closed Monday.
Admission: $18 adults, $10 youth ages 6 to 17, ages 2 and under free.
Source: Daily Journal
Information from: Daily Journal, http://www.dailyjournal.net
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