Two Tourist Tuesdays in a row?! I know, it’s crazy. But I can’t help myself. A few weeks ago I got to go to Infinity Mirrors with some friends from work and it was awesome. I had to share it before it leaves the Hirshhorn on May 14th. So get excited my friend, this is a photo heavy post.
I was certain I wasn’t going to see this exhibit. Two of my friends went day-of and told me the lines were crazy long. One week, Brannah and I tried to get tickets. They were gone in one minute. ONE MINUTE! But then the next week, Brannah got lucky. She got four tickets and chose to bring me and our coworkers, Amanda and Ashley.
We had tickets for late on Wednesday and only had to wait a few minutes in the ticket holders line. Once inside, we were giddy. The artist who created these rooms is Yayoi Kusama. She’s Japanese and became famous in the 1960’s. She is known for her dot motifs, nets, soft sculptures, and of course – the infinity mirrors.
The first room we went in was called Phalli’s Field. It’s also the first on Kusama created back in 1965. Kusama tried to create the infinity effect on her own by sewing each individual “tuber.” Fatigue set in and the use of “infinity” mirrors let her create the effect in a less physically taxing way.
In each room, we had 30 seconds, which for this first room felt like enough to me. The line for this room was also the shortest.
Some of the lines for other rooms were much longer. But it wasn’t just the rooms. In between rooms, there was information about the artist, works in other media, other immersive pieces like the one in the photo above. This one is called Love Forever. It has two peepholes so you can peer in, see yourself, and see the other person who might be looking in. The lights change color. Some colors were really beautiful. Some, in my opinion, had a bit of a boardwalk fair vibe.
Most of the rooms allowed for just 2-3 people at a time, so we had to split up. Above, Brannah and I are in a room called The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. The lights are supposed to remind the viewer of stars in the sky. It’s meant to be a quiet place for contemplation.
While I see that, the desire to connect with the natural, looking at the photo now it reminds me of looking over a busy city at night. All the buildings, the activity, the people out there – it’s immersive and far away all at the same time.
In between rooms, there was other art by Kusama. All of it pretty bright and interesting. And fun to look at while waiting in line.
Overall, I didn’t mind the lines. Some of them were super long, but I enjoyed the time to talk with my friends about what we saw. It was also less stressful than some lines because we knew people were being moved in and out. Because remember, 30 seconds per room only.
I’ve thought about the 30 seconds thing. There were rooms where I wanted to spend more time. I wanted time to look at everything, watch the lights change color or brightness, and just enjoy the space. I also wanted time to take photos of the art, the details, my friends, and of course a selfie too. It’s hard to get all that done in 30 seconds.
However, I appreciate that it’s the policy. Keeps people from being selfish, and thereby making the lines really long. I like it also because it made me spend time with the art I liked less. Phalli’s Field and All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (where you can’t take photos), 30 seconds felt just fine. It felt like plenty of time to take it all in.
In grad school, I remember reading something about how people look at art for about 15-30 seconds. I remember thinking, oh that’s so quick! While that does seem short, how long should we be looking? What is enough time? While I was totally guilty of being selfie and Instagram focused, I also loved the art and enjoyed talking about it to my friends. Maybe then that’s it. If you look at it, enjoy it, take something away from it – maybe time doesn’t matter so much.
The room above is called Love Transformed into Dots. It’s the biggest room so the four of us all go into together. I liked it too because you could wander a bit more, instead of stay on a single runway. Also how great is Amanda’s happy face behind me in the photo above?!
My favorite room was Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity. The photo at the top of this post was also from this room and photo credit goes to Brannah. I loved this exhibit because I was immersed in the art. We were physically surrounded by it all. I love art that makes me want to touch it and be a part of it. This room did that.
It was the darkest. The lights flickered gently. The floor, the seams in the mirror, all seemed to melt away. That was a room I’d get back in line to see again.
Ok, so actually the last room is the biggest. Before entering we got a sheet of colorful dot stickers. Inside, we joined the dozens of other people and helped decorated the white room. We were warned the stickers were part of the art and could not leave the room.
The four of us split the stickers and explored the room. The room is basically a nice first floor of a house, with a kitchen, sitting area, bookshelves, and a piano. People layered stickers, made them pour out of cups, and took selfies. There was a working piano, which people played, while others sat on the couch and talked. It was a fun, really social way to end the exhibition.
I loved it. From start to finish we were there for about 2 hours, which I think is often plenty for a museum visit. There was so much to enjoy too – the colors, the lights, and most of all, I loved getting to be in the art. I had a blast with my friends, and so lucky I got to go. For me, Infinity Mirrors was worth they hype.
As the same time, I get why this might not be for everyone. Lines, and hype, and 30 second changes can be a barrier. But again, adored it. So if you’re curious and have the time, I highly recommend it. Try for walk-up tickets here in DC before the 14th. Otherwise, Infinity Mirrors is traveling, so maybe it’s coming to a city near you!