This year, New York residents have waited on line for many a cultural phenomenon. From mind-numbing 13 hour waits to see the MOMA’s Rain Room this summer, to multi-block lines for the Cronut and the Ramen Burger, this city has done its fair share of idle standing around.
With the visibility of the exhibit at the David Zwirner Gallery entitled “I Who Have Arrived In Heaven” by Yayoi Kusama,, everyone’s favorite Japanese conceptual artist and psychiatric hospital patient, the trend of the long line seems to be here to stay. It may, in fact, be accelerating, with lines of upwards of 6 hours for one of the exhibit’s famed “infinity rooms” during record breaking snow over the past week. The exhibit closes on the 21st of this month, so get yourselves down there–or experience it through our photos.
Perhaps most surprised at this phenomenon is the staff of David Zwirner Gallery, where the exhibit is being held. Prior to the opening of “I Who Have Arrived In Heaven,” the gallery had a whopping six Yelp reviews. At opening time this week, staff with clickers counting the number of guests commented on the bizarre nature of their experience working on this exhibit, and jokingly likened themselves to Apple employees and nightclub bouncers.
So what is all the fuss about? The exhibit consists of three parts.
Twenty-seven new paintings, in the large square-format brightly colored style for which Kusama is known. Many of these utilize repeated geometric patterns and human body parts such as eyes and faces in contrasting color schemes. There is no wait to enter this part of the exhibit.
The second part of the exhibit is called “Love Is Calling,” and it’s one of the two “mirrored infinity rooms”—enclosed spaces in which the mirrored walls give the installation the feeling of continuing on forever in every direction. This one, popularly referred to as the “tentacle room,” requires much less waiting than the other, admitting groups of eight to ten people at a time. Once inside, each group has a minute and a half to maneuver around a series of glowing polka dotted rubber forms that change colors in an orb-like fashion, with a voice over of the artist in Japanese. Upon exiting, visitors can watch a wall-sized projection called “Manhattan Suicide Addict,” in which Kusama recites a poem she wrote after an attempted suicide.
Lastly, there’s “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” the second of the infinity rooms, and the one for which the aforementioned lines have formed. After waiting in the bone chilling cold for anywhere from three to six hours, visitors are each allowed 45 seconds alone in a truly surreal environment – a platform over a pool of water in a room with 75 flickering multi-colored LED lights. The serenity of the space (if you can afford a second or two break from clicking as many photos as possible) is astonishing.
“I Who Have Arrived in Heaven” is open for three more days, until Saturday, December 21st. Gallery hours are 10 am to 6 pm (except on Friday, when it will open at 11 am). Plan to be there early, as lines have been forming before the exhibit opens (as early as 7 am). And dress warmly—numb fingers make for slow photography!
All photographs by Jinny Khandujia.