An Exclusive Interview with Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi KusamaYayoi Kusama’s Longing for Eternity, 2017 is a new Infinity Mirror Room on view at The Broad, accessible with free general admission. The second artwork by Kusama to enter the Broad collection, Longing for Eternity joins the artist’s iconic Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013, on view since 2015, which has become a cultural phenomenon in Los Angeles.

On the occasion of the museum’s acquisition of Longing for Eternity, 2017, The Broad interviewed Kusama about her celebrated Infinity Mirror Rooms, her distinctive worldview and her thoughts on social media. The interview was conducted by Sarah Loyer, assistant curator at The Broad.

The Broad: Before you made your first Infinity Mirror Room, Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field in 1965, you made works on paper, Infinity Net paintings and Accumulation sculptures. What prompted your move from more traditional mediums such as painting and sculpture to immersive, mirror-lined installations?

Yayoi Kusama: The Infinity Mirror Room was borne from my exploration of space in visual art by using mirrors.

TB: Viewers are physically immersed in Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013, entering inside the mirror-lined chamber. In contrast, viewers remain physically outside of Longing for Eternity, 2017, observing the reflections on its interior and exterior and peering through windows into the mirror room. These works complement each other, creating two distinct phenomenological experiences of boundlessness and interior and exterior in dialogue with one another. This is evident in your painting practice, too, where you create works that visually envelop the viewer.  Have you always been interested in the relationship between the physical, bodily experience and the ocular, visual experience? 

YK: Including such elements, I create an artwork as a complete piece.

TB: The eloquent titles of your artworks often include phrases that reference vast expanses of time. When did you begin thinking in terms of “light years” or “eternity”? Has infinity always been a part of your worldview?

YK: Eternal unlimited universe, love for humanity, and longing for peace in the world—these concepts become increasingly serious through the development of my philosophy of life and art.

TB: Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013, has become one of Los Angeles’ most recognizable artworks since The Broad opened in 2015.  Visitors often share images of your Infinity Mirror Rooms on social media platforms, amplifying their enormous appreciation for your work through peer-to-peer networks. Do you see this image sharing as an extension of your intent with these works?

YK: I integrate my philosophy about the eternity of inter-relationships into my artworks. You can share the information, but the experience is your own. I wish you will come to experience my artwork at The Broad.