“Become one with eternity.
Become part of your environment.
Take off your clothes.
Forget yourself. Make love.
Self-destruction is the only
way to peace.”
– Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama is a name that will not be unfamiliar to the contemporary artist. Her unique style of polka-dot paintings and sculptures have spanned decades. I went to see her famous ‘Infinity’ exhibit in Stockholm during the summer and I fell in love with, not only her work, but the inspiring woman behind the polka-dot canvases.
Kusama symbolises love, pure love, between anyone regardless of gender or background. So much so that while she was in New York she created her own church of “self-obliteration” and to this day suggests that she performed the state’s first homosexual wedding. During her time in New York, Kusama produced a number of “happenings” the purpose of these events had the stated intention of disassembling boundaries of identity, sexuality and the body through public nudity. I wish I was able to walk the streets of 1960’s New York because I dream of being able to attend one of Kusama’s “happenings”. It’s all very hippy but the idea of being stood in public completely nude while having polka-dots painted on me, just feels very liberating compared to our current oppressive times in regards to sexual exploration.
Kusama came from a traditional Japanese family and found escapism through her work. Despite growing up in her situation she held acceptance dear to her heart and I believe she was both an inspiration and an advocate for LGBT communities. Not that she would call herself this, as she simply believed in the love between two people. For her; sex, skin and sexuality are not taboo. They are completely natural and should be explored, which I totally agree with. We grow up in a prudish culture that shames sex and this should change because to repress sex and the body image creates problems with relationships and confidence. I think Kusama embodies everything of the free spirit and ever since viewing her work and learning details about her life, I have been completely inspired by her message.
If you ever get the chance to see her work, I completely recommend that you do because not only is it stunning (in particular the infinity rooms) but the message beneath is a powerful one.