The eccentric Instagram-favorite artist takes one of her most famous works to an unlikely location.
Yayoi Kusama, arguably the internet’s most beloved artist, has work on display in New York City once again. It's a piece you've probably seen before — but this time, it's in a bit of a peculiar location.
On July 1st, Kusama’s site-specific installation Narcissus Garden (1966–present) became the third iteration of Rockaway!, a free public art experience presented by MoMA PS1. Its home on the Rockaway Peninsula, a sandy spit of land in southern Queens, is perhaps better known as a beach getaway for weekending New Yorkers than as an art destination.
Narcissus Garden, consisting of 1,500 chrome-like mirrored spheres, is now on display at Fort Tilden, covering the floor of a former train garage dating from the area's days as an active military base. The reflective silver balls create, in effect, a sea of their own — just steps from the ocean.
The garage-turned-art-space was one of many buildings in the area damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. "Six years after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Rockaways, the vulnerable area is still fighting for rebuilding and resilience," said Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator-at-Large at the Museum of Modern Art and Director of MoMA PS1, in a statement. “Recently, eleven blocks of one of the most popular beaches in Rockaway Park were closed due to erosion following a heavy storm in March.”
With its annual art installations, Rockaway! is meant remind New Yorkers of this history — bringing awareness to the continuing hurricane recovery and the ongoing effects of climate change. The exhibition was created in collaboration with local arts organizations and conservation groups, namely the Rockaway Artists Alliance, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
This summer is not the first time the chrome spheres of Narcissus Garden have reflected 1,500 versions of the world around them. Kusama debuted the work over 50 years ago, at the 1966 Venice Biennale, as an unofficial installation; she staged the piece as a form of self-promotion and critique of the commercialization of contemporary art.
Narcissus Garden can be viewed from 12-6pm on weekends and holidays through September 3, 2018. There are few options when trekking out to Fort Tilden from the city; there is no direct subway line, so taking a car is perhaps the most efficient method. Those favoring public transit can take a bus to nearby Jacob Riis Park, while Rockaway-bound A trains and the new Rockaway Ferry both stop slightly farther from the exhibition space.
Even if you are not able to make the trek out to Fort Tilden this summer, we guarantee Kusama's work will be making the rounds in your local instagram feed (just check out #RockawayKusama).
The artist's beloved works are also on exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art (July-September), the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (November-February 2019), and The Broad in Los Angeles. Kusama's namesake museum in Tokyo also opened this past May.
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