Yayoi Kusama’s ‘The Obliteration Room’: Polka-Dotting Begins

The white space, part of the new "Infinity Mirrors" exhibition at The Broad, will soon be carpeted in colorful polka dot stickers.

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Alysia Gray Painter
Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrors" opens at The Broad on Saturday, Oct. 21. In addition to mirrored rooms featuring lanterns and pumpkins? There's "The Obliteration Room" (2002-present), an artwork that will become something new with each polka dot sticker stuck on its all-white surface. Who is doing the sticking? Guests to the exhibition.
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Alysia Gray Painter
Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrors" opens at The Broad on Saturday, Oct. 21. In addition to mirrored rooms featuring lanterns and pumpkins? There's "The Obliteration Room" (2002-present), an artwork that will become something new with each polka dot sticker stuck on its all-white surface. Who is doing the sticking? Guests to the exhibition.
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Alysia Gray Painter
A detail of the desk within the room, with an early orange sticker dotting a pencil. Visitors are handed small sheets of stickers — blue, yellow, orange, red, green — as they enter. Where will those stickers go? Anywhere the guests like.
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Alysia Gray Painter
A couch and two pillows, with a red sticker atop a unicorn horn. Tickets for the much-anticipated event sold out in under two hours on Sept. 1, 2017. More tickets were released on Oct. 2, but they, too, sold out in a flash.
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Alysia Gray Painter
A line up of trophies, near the television, summons sticker-placers. If you'd like to see the exhibit, which also includes some of the lauded artist's newer collages, sculptures, and paintings, in addition to the walk-in rooms, there will be a daily stand-by line at the Grand Avenue contemporary art institution.
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Alysia Gray Painter
How long before the coffee table is fully covered by dots? Will the television be immersed in small circles by Halloween? Or Thanksgiving? It's up to each visitor to help the artwork reach a new and different level, thousands of times each day.
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Alysia Gray Painter
The artist, born in Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan in 1929, stated "Our Earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos." It's a whimsical observation that's seen, in large text, on one of the walls of the exhibit, and it is seen, in theme, throughout "Infinity Mirrors," and very much in polka-dot-tastic "The Obliteration Room."
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Yayoi Kusama
How will the space look by New Year's Day, the final day of the "Infinity Mirrors" exhibition? A look back at another "Obliteration Room" gives us a hue-mazing hint. (Pictured: KUSAMA, Yayoi Japan b.1929, The obliteration room, 2002 to present, furniture, white paint, dot stickers, dimensions variable, acc. 2012.098. Collaboration between Yayoi Kusama and Queensland Art Gallery. Commissioned Queensland Art Gallery, Australia. Gift of the artist through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2012)
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