When the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston acquired Yayoi Kusama’s “Love Is Calling” last fall, the museum became part of a select group of art institutions around the world to own one of the Japanese pop artist’s “Infinity Mirror Rooms.”
Now, Boston can experience this fanciful, immersive installation when it opens Sept. 24.
“We wanted to put it on view at the first opportunity and that wasn’t until now,” said Barbara Lee chief curator Eva Respini. “But we think it’s a perfect time, when the students are back and the city has that fall energy.
“This isn’t just an acquisition for the museum,” she added, “it is one for Boston, too.”
“Love Is Calling,” which premiered in Japan in 2013, is an interactive installation, which incorporates many mediums Kusama works in, including visual art, sculpture, light, and sound.
As an artwork, “Love is Calling” is considered both a pinnacle of Kusama’s work and of her “Infinity Mirror Room” series.
“There is a kaleidoscopic aspect of the piece,” Respini said. “It represents all the areas of her work in one home.”
Inside this darkened “Infinity Mirror Room,” brightly colored tentacles covered in the artist’s signature polka dots stretch up and down, gradually changing colors. A recording of Kusama reciting a love poem she wrote — its title translates to English as “Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears” — plays in a loop.
The poem echoes the continuity of the piece’s mirrored images (ourselves). Through endless reflections and the illusion of infinity, the experience aims to expand our versions of time, space, and self, questioning a societal viewpoint of the finite body.
“All of Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirror Rooms’ are very different,” said Respini. “But all are mirrored and the body is obliterated, there’s a loss of a sense of self.”
But, don’t worry; it’s only for two minutes.
There is no extra charge for this exhibition, but a timed ticket is needed for entrance. The ticket is valid for 30 minutes after the time listed and allows the bearer two minutes to absorb this existential artwork. The ICA has already sold out visits through Oct. 31 and plans to release additional tickets on Oct. 15.
Though the “Infinity Mirror Room” is the star of this new show, it has a supporting cast of pieces forming a companion exhibit, “Beyond Infinity: Contemporary Art after Kusama,” displaying work from the artist’s prolific career and that of her peers and followers.
“The display shows an artist over five decades in every medium she worked in. This entire exhibit is more than the Instagram-able phenomenon,” Respini said. “Her work had an indelible effect and this companion display includes artwork by her peers and younger artists who are clearly influenced by her.”
Yayoi Kusama’s “Love Is Calling;” Sept. 24–Feb. 7, 2021; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; $15 GA; Advance tickets are recommended; icaboston.org.