Let's Survive Forever

“Let’s Survive Forever”, 2017 – Yayoi Kusama

“Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos.” – Yayoi Kusama, 1968

Let’s Survive Forever invites the viewer to experience the Infinity Mirrored Room from within. The visitor is enveloped inside a large mirrored room with stainless steel balls suspended from the ceiling and arranged on the floor; an enclosed column within the room offers yet another mirrored environment accessible through peepholes. A sense of infinity is offered through the play of reflections between the circular shapes and the surrounding mirrors. The balls recall Kusama’s installation Narcissus Garden, first shown outdoors at the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966 with over 1500 reflective spheres and recently presented in the United States at The Glass House in Connecticut. In Narcissus Garden, Kusama attempted to sell mirrored balls by the side of the road for $2 a pop. It was a commentary on the art market, and today it’s a reminder that narcissism predates selfies.

These companion works only sharpen the mirrored rooms’ critique of authority – one that is also reflected by art critics debating whether museums should more tightly control how patrons experience art.

In director Heather Lenz’s documentary “Kusama – Infinity” which premiered at Sundance 2018, Kusama’s New York gallerist Richard Castellane calls the mirrored rooms a “breaking point.” Many artists had explored the concept of infinity but used fixed forms, like painting and sculpture, that allowed viewers to control how they looked at it. Kusama makes paintings, too, many of which are covered in obsessively painted polka dots – her signature. But with her mirrored rooms, she seizes control of the gaze to disorient viewers.

“The idea of shifting the focus away from an authorial master perspective was central to the philosophies of structuralism in the late 60s,” explains Mika Yoshitake, curator of the Infinity Mirrors exhibition currently in the midst of a three-year installation spanning six museums. “Power, authority and totalitarian regimes were being questioned. That destabilization of perspective and maybe even fragmentation of the self was something that was very much embraced.”

How long will I have in the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room?

You are given 1 minute inside the Yayoi Kusama Let’s Survive Forever Infinity Mirror Room — a time guideline instituted by Kusama herself!

Photography is allowed and encouraged! Touching the artwork is strictly prohibited. No personal belongings except a phone and a camera are allowed inside the room. Upon entry, you must wear shoe covers that we provide. Once you exit the Infinity Room, no re-entry is allowed.

About Yayoi Kusama

Born and raised in Japan, Yayoi Kusama emerged as an artist during the Vietnam era and continues to make work that reaches diverse audiences worldwide. Throughout her prolific practice spanning over six decades, Kusama has consistently created artwork about repetition and the concept of infinity.

In 1965 Kusama produced her first Infinity Mirror Room. This marked a move from the material repetition found in the artist’s paintings and sculptures to the illusion of infinite space using mirrors. Since then Kusama has made more than twenty unique rooms.

Fast Facts presented by 

  • Let’s Survive Forever is considered one of Yayoi Kusama’s masterpieces.
  • We are home to the first of three iterations, which she created in 2017 at the age of 88 (she is currently 93 years old and still creating art).
  • This is also the first and only Kusama infinity room in the Midwest.
  • Though Kusama is currently considered to be the most successful living female artist, she really did not receive the credit that she deserved until later in life/her career. Early on, her ideas were stolen by very famous contemporary male artists such as Andy Warhol, who she considered to be a friend.
  • She has voluntarily lived in a mental hospital since 1977, and much of her work has been inspired by her mental health struggle.