The Obliteration Room (Pending Obliteration) - Not as dire as it sounds.

Before I start, I would like to say that I don't know if this is Art, but it was certainly a fascinating experience.

Summer 2017
The Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama currently has a show called
Infinity Mirrors installed at the Seattle Art Museum. She plays with light and color, shape and form, and creates environments that are physically small enough to hold only 3 or so people but expand in all directions through the use of mirrors, altering the participant’s perception and making it feel as though one is actually in an infinite space. There were several such rooms, though the show also included Kusama’a sculptures, paintings, drawings, and an odd space called The Obliteration Room. (More on that in a little bit.)

Here are some pictures I took of some of the little mirrored rooms:

This last one was my favorite- even the floor and ceiling of this one were mirrored- I felt like I was floating amongst the stars, and I could breathe and not explode.  

c. 1962
The mirrored rooms reminded me of when I was a small child. Our upstairs bathroom was long and narrow, and each end of the room had a mirror. I could look into the mirror over the sink and see myself reflected into infinity behind me, and then turn and look into the other mirror for the same effect. It was fascinating. I can remember my mother at the door, saying
What are you doing in there?  The answer was Nuthin! I’ll be right out! Because I didn’t then know how to say I’m looking into infinity! And I don’t wanna come out!

Summer 2017 again
The Obliteration Room started out as an all- white room fitted out with things you’d find in an ordinary house. Furniture, shelving, lamps, a bicycle, picture frames- but everything was white. 

As each participant entered, we were handed a page of colored stickers and told we could put them anywhere we wanted.
You get the idea- obliterate the space with color.

                                                           The BLP obliterating a couch

Kusama had a more profoundly spiritual outlook, which is impossible for me to buy into, but I do love her whimsy.
The BLP and I were there on the day before the “official” opening, about noon, so only a few hours’ worth of museum-goers had been there before us. The room was far from obliterated by the colorful stickers and we had lots of choices on where to put them.
I found a corner next to a lamp, discovering that even with clever lighting, there were cast shadows that seemed far more important than they would if the room wasn’t so darn white to start with.
I placed my stickers and took a record shot, knowing that within hours/days/weeks my little contribution to obliteration would become part of the sea of color that would inevitably flood the room and transform it.

Then, I made a painting of “my” part in obliteration, preserving it as concretely as I know how.

                                                  Pending Obliteration  Rose Guastella (c) 2017  Oils on board 14" x 18"

Not my usual style, is it?
Maybe I will keep it.
Or maybe I will simply paint the surface white again, and obliterate the image.
That, I think, would be somehow fitting.

Views: 387

Comment by Rosigami on July 23, 2017 at 3:23pm

For more on Yayoi Kusama and the Infinity Mirrors show currently at SAM, go to

Comment by koshersalaami on July 23, 2017 at 6:03pm

Art about art

Comment by Rosigami on July 23, 2017 at 6:34pm

Terry, it seemed like the right response at the time. A moment- a memory- preserved. 

Comment by Rosigami on July 23, 2017 at 6:36pm

Kosh, it might be. I like my painting because it reminds me of an enjoyable experience.  

Comment by Julie Johnson on July 24, 2017 at 6:02am

Rosi, that is a sweet story of you as a child looking into infinity!  I love it.  I remember the first time going into the lady's changing room, with the 3 mirrors set up so you could all sides of yourself at once?  I did just about the same thing.  
I like this person's art, maybe a bit too 'bouncy' for my Westernized tastes, but seriously, it takes skill to arrange mirrors like that.  
Smoke and mirrors, it was my 'theme' for years.  We live in a little bitty teeny tiny house, built in the late 1950's.  Because of how two rooms were built on to the back in the 70's, there are a few places in the house that are dark, no windows to the outside, just a window into the other room.  
I've put mirrors up in different places on the walls over the years, ...trying to get the light to bend into the corners, and to open up the air.  It works, at times.  What's funny is, and I've mentioned this before. is if they're not positioned just right, all it does is magnify the clutter into infinity...      

Comment by JMac1949 Today on July 24, 2017 at 6:25am


Comment by greenheron on July 24, 2017 at 6:34am

You probably already know, but she’s been a resident in a mental hospital for forty years. She’s said that making polka dots keeps her from killing herself. She’s willingly committed and has a studio nearby so she can work.

When I was an art student she was famous for performance pieces where she painted polka dots on groups of nude people. She also told Nixon that she’d sleep with him if he’d stop the war.  My kinda gal :)

Her infinity rooms are amazing. Lucas Samaras was also worked with mirrors for awhile. One piece is a mirrored tunnel you walk through that pretty much destroys your equilibrium. It’s not  terribly long, but it felt like miles, trying to navigate to the end. I felt nauseous for a long time afterwards.

My fave Kusama piece is the polka dotted trees, like couture for trees!

For someone in so much pain, she makes the world a more joyful place with her art.

Comment by Julie Johnson on July 24, 2017 at 6:40am

...oh wow...Greenheron, I didn't see that!  I did such a quick peek, I thought she was a young woman, and yes, that's what I meant by 'bouncy' it did sort of make me dizzy.  

Comment by alsoknownas on July 24, 2017 at 6:57am

"I could breathe and not explode."

That's really quite important on a Sunday outing.

Comment by greenheron on July 24, 2017 at 7:06am

Julie, she's old, got be in her eighties by now. She was already well established when I was in art school in the seventies.

And she was incredibly beautiful. Was girlfriend of Don Judd's and something going on with Joseph Cornell too. I'll go see if I can find a pic of her young. She was stunning and very sensual, which is why Nixon was a dummo not to take her up on her offer!


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