Infinity Rooms – Tate Modern

Yayoi12Deep inside the Blavatnik Building, itself recently the subject of a Supreme Court ruling, sit two small ‘rooms’ white painted ‘blocks’ from outside, but full of light, water and reflection within. These are Yayoi’s Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms, global phenomena. Tickets are limited and even when you have them you will queue to enter each room. At four fifteen on a Friday those queues were each about ten minutes in length, but getting longer as time went on. When you get to the doors you are allowed inside in groups of six people only and, when you’re inside, it’s easy to see why numbers are restricted. 

These are Tardis-style rooms, seeming much bigger on the inside than outside. Through clever use of mirrors and, in the second of the two rooms, water, light creates endless vistas, multiple people and forms. The first room ‘Chandelier of Grief’ contains one single crystal chandelier, which is reflected to infinity by mirrors above, below and all around it, rather in that fairground fashion I remember from childhood (and exploited by Orson Welles in his 1947 film Lady from ShanghaiYayoi5 ). It is disorientating; difficult to tell who is real and who is reflection – and it wasn’t any easier looking at the photos afterwards. The chandelier repeats into an apparently vast chasm in the floor as well as along corridors into space. There are reflections of reflections, not all in the manner you imagine either, but when, say, a pair of bodyless photographing hands gets caught in the regressions.

‘Chandeliers’ is but a taste. ‘Filled with the Brilliance of Life’ the second of the two rooms is seriously disconcerting. Advised by the gate keeper to this room to stand completely still when the lights switch off for a change in sequence, for fear that an unwitting visitor will blunder into the pans of water which lie to either side of the pathway upon which one proceeds through the room, a member of my party had to sit down once we had exited. It is an overwhelming visual experience.

Yayoi10A myriad of lights are hung from the ceiling ( at least that’s how I reasoned it must work, I don’t actually know if that’s correct ) reflecting in multiple mirrors again, but also in the water on the floor. The visitor walks along a three foot wide pathway between the lights from one side of the ‘room’ to the other, something which takes but two or three minutes, if one was walking at normal pace. In fact one walks then stands, marvelling at the reflections and the lights, before starting out again. What the photographs in this piece don’t show is the variation in the colours of these lights as they slowly change from colour scheme to colour scheme. That is best shown when you look into the water (see below for a slightly better representation).

Infinity Mirror Rooms has been running since before COVID, but tickets are still in short supply. Outside the ‘rooms’ are photographs andYayoi8 biographical details which place the rooms into context of Yayoi Kushama’s life and work, plus the wonderful mirror box which in featured in an earlier piece I wrote when the Tate extension first opened. That too is worth seeing and playing with. Booking is currently until April though the exhibition is closed for maintenance in March. At a tenner it’s worth visiting (and you can catch the wonderful standing collection and some superb, free exhibitions, like A Year in Art; Australia 1992, which I’ve also written about elsewhere ). Highly recommended.



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