The hottest ticket in Los Angeles is the Broad’s Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, a survey of the 88-year-old Japanese artist’s five-decade body of work. The museum sold out all 50,000 tickets in the first hour, and each morning, a queue forms outside for the opportunity to pay $30 for a standby ticket at the door.
In addition to viewing Kusama’s paintings and personal ephemera, each ticket guarantees a coveted 30-second slot inside each of the six “infinity rooms” – mirrored chambers in which sparkling LED lights, luminous acrylic pumpkins, or floating orbs form an immersive, kaleidoscopic abyss. For Kusama, the infinite fields of light meant the dematerialization of the body becoming one with the universe; for most ticketholders, however, it’s an awesome selfie.
On Instagram, the Broad’s geotag summons a seemingly endless stream of photos of museumgoers – individuals, couples, children – holding smartphones up to Kusama’s reflective surfaces. The rise of art selfies like these has become a bone of contention among the art world elite, inciting a backlash in Kusama’s case. The New York Times’ Roberta Smith called her “a bit of a charlatan” who “stoops to conquer with mirrored ‘infinity’ rooms that attract hordes of selfie-seekers”. The LA Times went further: “The most interesting feature of the rooms is that looking at the ubiquitous photos of them is as fulfilling as actually being there”. Apartment Therapy meanwhile, declared it “the Instagram exhibit to end all Instagram exhibits”. Read more