Dinca — contemporary art blog

Dotted Diffusion: The Art of Yayoi Kusama

“Soul Under the Moon”, Yayoi Kusuma, 2002


Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama has an otherworldly vision — since a child, she has suffered from a unique ailment called depersonalization syndrome. Depersonalization syndrome has to be one of the most alien syndromes I’ve heard of, for its symptoms have been described as making an individual feel “like an alien visiting Earth for the first time.” The patient feels that his or her body is dissolving, changing, or simply absent.  Some call it the ‘Alice in Wonderland Disease’, for the patient ceases to perceive the reality of one’s self, one’s environment, or one’s life.

Sometimes the individual perceives objects at delusional sizes and shapes. In extreme cases, patients experience life in a constant OBE (out-of-body) state of mind — patients describe the sensations as, “floating on the ceiling looking down at myself,” or “feeling as one were a machine or robot,” or, “in a constant dream state with body on autopilot.”

For Soul Under the Moon, Kusama constructed a room that was lined with mirrored glass, and then she placed neon colored balls at different heights. Kusama’s work draws heavy influence from her depersonalization symptoms, hence the profuse dots of her work. Looking at the above image, I wonder what the balls are made of — they almost look like those styrofoam arts and crafts balls that you buy at Michael’s — painted in glow-in-the-dark neon spray paint. Who knows, though.

According to some, the combination of mirror lined walls and neon balls create a never ending vision of time-space. As you will see below, Kusama has done the mirror illusion in some of her other pieces. Far out work; neat stuff — I cannot wait to see a Kusama exhibit in person!  If you live in the Los Angeles area, Kusama’s Flowers That Bloom at Midnight exhibit is at the Gagosian Gallery May 30-July 17, 2009.  Don’t miss the photos posted below.

Part I of Kusama’s film Self Obliteration (1967)

Even Kusama’s films feature heavy use of dots.


Yayoi Kusama Offcial Website

Despersonalization Syndrome on Wikipedia

Despersonalization.info (filled with web typography no-no’s)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *