Yayoi Kusama is an almost universally beloved artist. Following her collaboration with the New York Botanical Garden, the artist is now creating an Obliteration Room at Tate Modern, offering her herds of fans the chance to collaborate in a polka-dotted installation. Polka dots hold a special meaning for the well-known Japanese artist, who is known for her spotted works. Polka dots have appeared frequently in her work: Her Infinity Mirror Rooms, immersive installations that give the impression of eternity by reflecting polka dots eternally, are one such example.
The Tate Modern is giving visitors the chance to get involved in the creation and completion of a Kusama piece this summer. The Obliteration Room, a white, empty space ready to be decorated with Kusama’s distinctive polka dots, will be open to visitors’ participation. Visitors to the show will add to an expanding constellation of dots by bringing their own stickers. The space is created as a monochrome living room, with chairs and furniture all painted in white. The fact that there are objects in the space makes it easier to create depth once polka dots start accumulating.
In this new project, Kusama’s obsession with repetition and accumulation comes to the forefront, the blank space offered by Tate Modern serves as the base on which a big group of people will leave their mark, simultaneously honoring the artist as they create a majestic artwork. This interactive project is set to develop as the frequency of polka dots grows, which will naturally create new configurations of color and form.
Tate provides an explanation and background that sheds some light on the importance of this work for the artist:
“Kusama is best known for her brilliantly coloured dotted surfaces, her installations with blow-ups and her walls covered in brilliant spots. And in her biography, she talks about experiences really of a very young child, almost sort of hallucinogenic experiences, where her vision of landscape and people was clouded by spots. And in her very, very first mature works of art, just after finishing art school in Kyoto, the spot emerges as a pattern in her work. And from that period of time, she comes back to the spot with great regularity, and by the end of the sixties, she is actually painting a landscape, she’s painting spots on people’s bodies, onto animals, and the spot becomes a very regular motif throughout her work.”
The Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kusama will be on display at Tate Modern from July 23 through August 29, 2022.
Photo via Cleveland Museum of Art