By Sarah Bates
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Yayoi Kusama exhibition doesn’t live up to the hype

Yayoi Kusama is popular for all the right reasons but her exhibition, Infinity Mirror Rooms falls short
Issue 2814
Infinity Mirror Rooms

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms. (Picture: Judith Jackson)

Yayoi Kusama really is having a bit of a moment. Despite enjoying popularity since the 1950s, in the last few years, Kusama has become a bit of a worldwide phenomenon. 

People might be familiar with her huge works infused with colourful polka dots, or the huge pumpkin sculptures that are one of her calling cards. The original run of the Infinity Rooms exhibition at Tate Modern was so wildly popular it prompted a Glastonbury-style rush to secure tickets. You get just a few minutes in each room. 

In Infinity Mirrored Room, hundreds of small lights are reflected many times over, occasionally shifting colour. You’re surrounded by water pool, which creates an unreal atmosphere as you see all the lights shimmering off the liquid. 

It must disorient enough people, as the gallery worker told me they keep a mop there as every 20 minutes or so, someone falls in. Honestly, it was quite magical, especially for my toddler who thought he was in a room consisting almost entirely of bubbles. 

Some of the most interesting work in the exhibition is the footage of Kusama when she had just moved to New YorkWalking around in her kimono, Kusama wanted to show how much of an outsider she felt in her new home. Other pictures show the performance art phase of her work which dominated much of her earlier artistic career.

Perhaps it is too pessimistic to say much of the popularity of this particular exhibition lies behind how pleasing the infinity rooms look on an Instagram grid. 

I think it would be almost impossible for such a hyped up exhibition to live up to expectations but it did fall a little flat. But maybe I just need to let go of my cynicism and enjoy the “bubbles!” when I finally got to see them. 


Weird sensation feels good—the world of asmr

This new exhibition promises a deep dive into the world of autonomous sensory meridian response, known as ASMR. ASMR is that tingling sensation down the back of your neck triggered when you hear a nice noise or movement.

And it’s found an expression online—millions of people watch ASMR performers—known as ASMRtists—on Youtube or Tiktok. Often they’re whispering or eating. 

Sometimes they’re doing things like popping bubble wrap or plunging their hands into slime.

  • Weird sensation feels good—the world of asmr at The Design Museum, London W8 6AG until 16 October

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