Fans line up to see Yayoi Kusama’s infinity room

Crowds lined up outside the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami’s Design District on Thursday to catch a glimpse of Yayoi Kusama’s mirrored room for free.

Kusama is a 90-year-old Japanese pop-artist who has been creating surrealist and abstract expressionist sculptures, installations, paintings, and more for nearly 60 years. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, she competed with artists such an Andy Warhol.

“All The Eternal Love I Have For The Pumpkins” is an immersive installation featuring a small, dark mirrored room filled with pumpkins covered in Kusama’s signature polka-dots and lit by LED lights. It is the first of Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror Rooms” collection to be on view in Miami.

Inside of Kusama’s “All The Eternal Love I Have For The Pumpkins” (Beatriz De La Portilla/SFMN).

Guests are allowed in one at a time for only a minute. But on Thursday, when they are allowed into the exhibit for free, fans were not deterred by the time limit. Chakameh Habibi, an architect and one of the earliest to line up outside the doors, said she was looking forward to the exhibit.

“The idea of repetition has always been. . . very much of a concern of the artist, and in this case with the mirrors and all that, she has taken the repetition to infinity, which is in itself very exciting,” said Habibi.

Vicente Albarracin, a TV director, and writer, said he was amazed by the “Infinity Mirror Room.” “My first impression was another planet,” he said. “It was like you are on drugs, but without the actual drugs.”

“The turnout has been great,” said gallery assistant Lexy Morales. “We’re sold out for the next month, up until the second week of November, so we really only have free days on Thursdays and even then the turnout has been pretty amazing. Our lines are extremely long. . . they go up to the next block.”

Entry to the exhibit is free on Thursdays, but Morales said the proceeds for the tickets to see the exhibit on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays will fund the museum’s education programs.

“I love her work,” said Lily Naranjo, owner of Japow, a Japanese style shaved ice food truck. “I think we have so much of reality in our day to day lives, it’s amazing to go somewhere and just let your creativity roam free, just like she lets hers. It helps us also think about deeper, complex concepts as well.” Naranjo says she finds inspiration in Kusama’s use of proportions.

ICA visitor services associate Katherine Fleitman stands outside of Kusama’s mirrored room with a timer to assure one minute per guest. (Beatriz De La Portilla/SFMN).

Josh Burns, senior gallery assistant, said the infinity rooms are meant to serve as a type of “ego destruction.” He explained that Kusama’s signature dot motif signifies separate, unique, and isolated dots. There is a sense of humility.

“You enter into the space and see yourself reflected so many times over, and it’s so all-encompassing and infinite,” Burns said. “It creates a humbling moment for the viewers.”

He mentioned how the piece is her first to feature pumpkins in an infinity room since 1991. It combines three of the artist’s classic, recognizable trademarks: polka-dots, pumpkins and infinity mirrors.

“If you’re going to introduce someone to Kusama’s work, this is an excellent piece to do so.” Burns said.

The exhibit opened last Saturday and will run until January 31, 2020. It will be open Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m to 5 p.m. Admission will be free every Thursday on a first-come, first-served basis. Timed tickets will be available for Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for $15 at The museum is located at 112 NE 41st St.

Nimechi Ikechi Uko contributed to this report

Beatriz is a broadcast media major at Florida International University and is the managing editor for Caplin News. She aspires to become a documentarian.