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Legendary avant-garde artist installing 1000+ spheres on Fort Tilden Beach

Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama with Narcissus Garden (1966) installed in Venice Biennale, Italy, 1966 ©YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London/Venice.

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama will be bringing her famous art installation “Narcissus Garden” to Fort Tilden in the Rockaways this summer. The piece, which is comprised of 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres, will be on free public display within a former train garage that dates to the time when Fort Tilden was an active US military base. The installation is part of MoMA PS1’s “Rockaway!” series, a yearly festival which aims to benefit recovery efforts in the Rockaways following damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Fort Tilden has hosted some cool events over the years — like Todd P’s “Unamplified BBQ” back in 2009 and, more recently, the former train station location  was home to Patti Smith‘s 2014 art installation “Resilience of the Dreamer.” Klaus Biesenbach, the art director of MoMA PS1, told The New York Times that this version of “Narcissus Garden” will appear “very, very different than before.” The piece debuted in 1966:

Narcissus Garden was first presented in 1966, when Kusama staged an unofficial installation and performance at the 33rd Venice Biennale. The silver spheres, originally made from plastic, were installed on the lawn in front of the Italian Pavilion, reflecting the landscape of the exhibition grounds. Kusama herself stood among them, barefoot and dressed in a gold kimono, alongside yard signs inscribed with the words “Narcissus Garden, Kusama” and “Your Narcissism for Sale.” Throughout the opening day of the exhibition, Kusama remained in the installation, tossing the spheres in the air and offering to sell them to visitors for 1,200 lire (approximately $2) each. The action, which was viewed both as self-promotion and a critique on the commercialization of contemporary art, would later be seen as a pivotal moment in Kusama’s career as she transitioned from installation toward the radical, politically charged public performances that would be the focus of her work in the late 1960s in New York City.

Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden, T9 building. Site of Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden for Rockaway! 2018. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Pablo Enriquez.
Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden, T9 building. Site of Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden for Rockaway! 2018. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Pablo Enriquez.

“Narcissus Garden” runs from July 1 to September 3. Fort Tilden is accessible by public transportation and If you want to know more about the installation, head to the MoMa website.

Kusama’s influence is far-reaching, well beyond just the art world, into fashion, film, music and beyond. Superchunk paid tribute to her on their song “Art Class” from 2001’s Here’s to Shutting Up, which you can listen to below. Her work has also been praised by Adele, and Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room” inspired a performance of “When We Were Young” at the 2016 BRIT awards. You can that below as well.

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