Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Let us now praise Yayoi Kusama. The high priestess of polka dots. For quite some time now, Ms. Kusama has been peppering the world with dots inspired by the visions and trances that overtake her. Since childhood, Ms. Kusama has had hallucinations of dots and heard voices from plants and animals. Luckily for us, she has channeled her experiences of self-oblitheration into art we can all experience.

Pictured in Red, a photo from 2005, and in black and white with an ani-pal circa 1967, Ms. Kusama has created her own polka dot themed attire, and staged happenings in her Infinity Rooms where she painted all sorts of naked persons with her dots. The dots represent the elements of the cosmos: the sun, moon, stars. These allow people to self-oblitherate, her expression for becoming one with the raw universe.

Ms. Kusama even designs her own frocks.

Ms. Kusama left New York in 1973 and returned to Japan. If I did the math right, that would make her 40 when she left NYC and found greater success in Japan (I'm totally inspired. Does this mean I should move back to LA at 40?). Ms. Kusama exhibits internationally and has been in the Venice Biennale. Here is a photo of her work from the Singapore Biennale in 2006.

I am dismayed to have missed her exhibition at the Peter Blum Gallery. But I just saw her work for the first time at the Summer of Love exhibition at the Whitney. A lyrical short film showed Ms. Kusama putting polka dots on herself, her naked assistants, cats, dogs, and horses. Even water. It was the highlight of the exhibit for me.

The show was very much devoid of content, with huge photo prints of the members of the Beatles and Rolling Stones dominating the walls. I went with my friend Stella, who said the whole thing was more Lazer Zepplin than art show. We did get kinda tripped out in the chill out rooms with projection installations, but there was very little to actually chew on.

I did come to the shocking realization that I am a product of my time. I was born in 1969. My aesthetic (which I naively thought so unique) has always combined silent movie images, Indian kitsch, film noir, psychedelic polyester and Art Nouveau. Well goslings, all that was there, not always all stuck together, but certainly on the same plate. It's official: I'm a hippie.

Rudolpho used to accuse me of being a hippie, back when I cared what he thought (did I really? Now that I find that shocking). And yes, he said it as if it was a bad thing.

So I like to do a little green yoga once and a while and look at the stars. So I'll always support the underdog, protest the war, and cut my own hair infrequently with a blunt hair of kitchen scissors. So I enjoy daisies and ukuleles and fleamarkets and saying what I actually mean. So my friends are Sufis, clowns, Hare Krishnas, Freegans, and activists (sometimes all at the same time). So I want a life of doing my thing (whatever the hell that is) instead of an immaculate home with landscaping. So I leave my hair frizzy. And think capitalism is evil. And will always reject the military/industrial complex, the marriage/industrial complex and uncomfortable shoes. I might even show up to your cocktail party wrapped in a frayed vintage curtain and do a Butohesque dance to an Edith Piaf song.

Is that so terrible? I mean, who does it hurt?

Hooray the Rudolpho years are over!


All that said, there is a reason I have always rejected the hippie label. For all the flowerpowerness of it, for all the let-your-freak-flag-flyness, the movement was populated by a whole lotta white dudes disinterested in divesting themselves of their white male priviledge. Very much like liberals today. Plus the whole appropriating other cultures for your own amusement and exotification problem.

But enough about me and the folly of the Rudolpho years where I entertained a romantic notion of bourgeois respectability.

Ms. Kusama is the real deal. A visionary.



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