When my friend posted photos on Facebook of the Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirshhorn in Washington, D.C. I was intrigued by the art and the infinite images. I had never heard of the artist, Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese artist whose career spans over 65 years. She is still, at 89, a working artist in Tokyo. I tried to get tickets in D.C. but they were all sold out. So imagine my surprise when I realized that the exhibit was across the street from the Four Seasons Seattle at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). I only noticed and connected the dots (like in the Obliteration Room below – haha) when I saw a long line waiting on Saturday morning at 8:30 am and realized it was the same show.
When the lines were gone, I decided to try my luck at noon and walked up to the ticket desk. They had tickets available after 3 pm but I was scheduled to check in by 2 p.m. for the Alaskan cruise so I missed my opportunity. However, I now had a plan for the following Saturday once I disembarked the ship since check-in at Hotel 1000 wasn’t until 4 p.m. What better way to spend the day in Seattle than at the Infinity Mirrors exhibit with my friend and her girls (they were thrilled that I’d wait in line for them).
Same Day Ticket Line for Infinity Mirrors Exhibit
I arrived to the end of the line at 9:30 am at the end of the block below the famous Hammering Man and across from Starbucks. Museum staff were walking the line to answer questions and prepare us for the process once the doors opened. At 10 a.m. the doors opened and people moved inside the building into two lines – members and walk up tickets. Of course the member’s line was shorter and staff were offering up memberships while we stood in line if we wanted to join and buy tickets (skip the line and the long wait for a fee). I was tempted to skip to the front of the line for $79 (individual membership) but rational thought overtook me as to the absurdity of this unnecessary fee. I visit Seattle every other year so the membership was of no use to me and as a skip the line fee, it was too much to pay.
We moved inside the air-conditioned building and wrapped through the halls so that I arrived a block away this time inside rather than outside the building. Everyone was quiet in the line immersed in their phones for the most part. At 11 am, I reached the desk to purchase tickets – 2 adults ($34.95 each), 2 teens ($24.95 each) and 1 child (free for 12 and under). The limit is four tickets so luckily the fifth ticket was free and didn’t count again my order. I booked for 2 pm to allow my friends time to travel to the city for brunch.
Infinity Mirrors Exhibit Timed Entry
The tickets are timed in 15 minute increments and you are told to arrive 10 minutes early. What we didn’t know but quickly learned is that there are five mirrored rooms (D.C. showed six rooms, Seattle was missing “The Souls of a Million Light Years Away”) for which there were more lines to wait in. Visitors then get 20 seconds in the room, limited to 3 people at a time (singles are called out to put with couples with one exhibit having a shorter single line). Let me repeat, you wait in a line for a 15-20 minutes, to get 20 SECONDS (one exhibit is 30 seconds) inside without anything other than your camera (one room, the pumpkin room, doesn’t allow cameras – just you!). You leave your purse and stuff in the box by the entrance with the staff.
A staff member opens the door of the exhibit for you and times you while the second staff member gives instructions to those in line to prepare them. It was well orchestrated with everyone being patient in line and accepting (like me begrudgingly) the rules that the artist has put in place. We started on the left and worked clockwise (you can choose your own route, line, etc.) and chose not to repeat an experience but you can get back in line if you want. There is no time limit to the exhibit.
When you enter the first exhibit you know time is limited and you are trying to get a sense of the art, the surroundings and watching your feet to not go past the allowed area. Twenty seconds go by very quickly and by the time you experience the art and think I should take a photo or video, the door opens and you are called to exit outside as time is up. Now that you get the idea, you quickly learn to manage your time better with the experience and photos/video.
Infinity Mirrors exhibit rooms
The first exhibit is Phalli’s Field (we had kids with us – ages 10, 14, 16) so that was interesting. Thankfully the 10-year-old saw only the polka dot white tubers in the field. There are creations of phallic tubes in a few free sculptures outside of the rooms. The room is recreated from her original 1965 works.
The next exhibit was a box to look into “Infinity Mirrored Room – Love Forever” (a peep show of sorts as you see other visitors peeking through) as the lights change colors inside in different patterns. For children there is a step up box. The time to look through the window wasn’t as strict as the mirrored rooms.
The room with pink balls, “Dots Obsession Love Transformed Into Dots” that we are told we are not to kick or punch but frankly the beach balls did scream to be punched and kicked for fun. Tell me not to do something that I hadn’t thought to do, the only thing I want to do is that now. Outside the room we see pink, however, inside the room the view is purple.
Another peek inside installation associated with the “Dots Obsession – Love Transformed Into Dots” was fun vision with angles and patterns for one person at a time to look.
The pumpkin room, more specifically the newest room entitled “All the External Love I Have for the Pumpkins” 2016, did not allow any camera and required a staff member to accompany you in the room to confirm you are not taking photos or videos. This sucked. When I asked why, she replied “people have dropped their phones into the art” which damaged the art (thanks East Coast people who attended in D.C.). While the other exhibits are stuffed or plastic balls, this seemed a more fragile material. The yellow dotted pumpkins were really cool and Kusama has said that pumpkins “are a source of radiant energy” and “…pumpkins talk to me”. Because you couldn’t bring anything inside, we could actually experience the art without trying to take photos/videos and talking. Imagine my surprise two weeks later in D.C. at the Hirshhorn when I saw the giant Kusama pumpkin outside!
The last walk in exhibit was the yellow lights in “The Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity”. We were told that we would get ten seconds more, a total of 30 seconds in the room (yippee) but that the lights may go out (boo!). During our visit the lights did go off and that affected the experience, we wanted more time in there to appreciate the experience but didn’t want to wait in line again.
The Obliteration Room at the Infinity Mirrors exhibit
No two are the same. As you enter the Obliteration room, you are handed sticker dots upon entry. Interactive art at its finest. Our party of five got two sheets of colored dots to create art. The room initially started off all white and visitors have placed the dots all around to create the current view. Once the exhibit ends, the room will be destroyed. There is a camera in the room to track the art being made by guests. Staff believes there will be a time lapsed video created to show the art in progress. We wondered how dots made their way to very high heights. It was interesting to decide where to place your colored dot – on the sofa, bicycle, table, wall or light, etc. – next to the same colored dot or with a different color. Our choices were interesting.
Kusama Paintings and Sculptures
Throughout the exhibit the mirror rooms are surrounded by photos, paintings and sculptures created by the artist, Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese artist whose career spans over 65 years. She is still, at 89, a working artist in Tokyo. You can see her letters, watch an interview and experience the paintings and various sculptures in the exhibit.
Infinity Mirrors Exhibit – Final Thoughts
We spent about 2.5 hours at the exhibit on a Saturday afternoon. The infinity mirrors exhibit was definitely an experience that you should attend – lover of art and skeptic. While I’m sure there’s a deep message that the artist wants to convey (infinite expansion), for me, it was just fun and different and frankly art needs to be fun nowadays to escape the daily dramas and 24/7 news cycle. I’m happy I connected the dots in Seattle and could share this Infinity Mirrors exhibit with my friend and her kids.
Have you experienced the Infinity Mirrors exhibit or other Kusama art? Thoughts?
To experience the Infinity Mirrors exhibit, get thee to Seattle quickly as the exhibit ends on September 10th. The art tour continues until 2019 with stops in major cities – Los Angeles, Toronto, Cleveland and Atlanta. Sounds like a fun reason to visit these cities and explore for a weekend of food and art.