TAR in NYC: Yayoi Kusama – The Obliteration Room

Yayoi Kusama – dot, circle, point, prick

As we walked along West 19th street towards David Zwirner’s gallery, a bunch of 20s something’s are walking away with different coloured stickers on their faces, body and dogs. The stickers are on the telephone poles, the streetlights and the ground. I start to get excited. This is the first time that I will be seeing her work and this is the first time that this work is being shown in North America. There is a queue outside the gallery’s main entrance, where a house that reminds me of 1970s suburbia sits with a massive American flag hanging off. The home is one level with yellow siding, a screen door and red shutters. There is a mailbox, a plastic veranda chair with the number 9393 on a slant close to the entrance. The line moves at a moderate pace and when we reach the entrance the gallery assistants ask us to take no more than five minutes in the space. As I enter with my sheet of multicoloured stickers I go to stand on a chair to put one on the ceiling. I can’t reach so my boyfriend comes over to lift me up. Kusama has painted familiar domestic objects completely white and invites us to add our stickers to any spot that we can find. I am contributing to the transformation of what I believe to be the most drab existence that one could experience – the house wife, the domestic caretaker, the person who lives for a man, their children and neighbourhood gossip. The Obliteration Room becomes a place of serenity for me. I have physical contact with the things that make me tick. I feel her anxiety of confinement and recognize that this room is her method of dealing. Transforming this white space into a psychedelic experience, I start to wonder what it would be like to confine myself to a domestic existence.

There is no particular scent to the space, and part of me doesn’t want to leave. There is this comfort that I find more warming than my own home. Everyone is taking pictures of themselves and the space. We will forever be physically present in this room while reminding the world that we were there. As I finish my sheet of stickers, I stand back and take this picture.

As the space now exists as a photograph it seems more overwhelming than it does in the flesh. My eyes become confused and I become a little dizzy. The sense of depth and space both physically and photographically disappear and become a flat surface.

We are here to experience the inner workings of a Kusama’s mind. We are transforming the space through our participation in her vision. We develop a relationship to the space that is personal. We draw out our own emotions and place them into patterns, forms and installation. The repetitive nature of placement becomes apparent, where it is no longer possible for us to ignore our existence in physical, tangible space.

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