One of the most famous artists of our time, Yayoi Kusama is synonymous with a few things: pumpkins, trippy infinity rooms and polka dots. This new quirky installation in Shibuya, which belongs to the red-haired nanogenarian’s ‘Obliteration Room’ series (2002-present), takes her signature polka dot motif to the next level.
At the Obliteration Room, you’ll get to transform the stark white space with an explosion of colourful stickers. This interactive experience is part of the Pavilion Tokyo 2021 art event, which has placed nine impressive installations, created by eight famous Japanese artists and architects, around Tokyo. Pavilion Tokyo 2021, in turn, is a key event at the city-wide Tokyo Tokyo Festival, currently ongoing until September 5.
You’ll find Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Obliteration Room’ in the Shibuya City Office – Daini Mitake Branch Government Office Building. But first, you’ll have to make a (free) reservation in advance. The installation is open every day from 10am to 6pm but each visit is limited to 20 minutes. You can only reserve one week in advance; bookings for the following week are open at 12noon every Monday.
Before entering the room, there's the usual coronavirus-safety measures – disinfecting your hands and getting a temperature check. You’ll then be given a sheet of differently sized colourful stickers, which you can use to decorate any surface and item in the room. Note that you’ll have to take off your shoes before entering the room, which the staff will carry to the exit.
The stark white installation is a life-sized, immaculate re-creation of an apartment complete with familiar household objects. At the front door you’ll see a post box and a bicycle before stepping into a fully-equipped kitchen. The attention to detail is impressive: there’s a dining table all set up with utensils as well as common electronics such as a microwave and refrigerator.
Next is the small living room, complete with a sofa and TV, plus a reading space at the back. Some visitors have done a creative job of using their stickers to create adorable patterns resembling cat paws or caterpillars.
The highlight, however, is located behind a small corridor, which leads you to a stunning all-white Japanese-style room decked out with tatami mats. Besides a traditional tea-time set up of two trays with tea pots and dango dumplings, there’s also a tokonoma alcove featuring a traditional hanging scroll and flowers.
This installation is worth several repeat visits to see how it’s transformed over time as more and more visitors contribute to the makeup of the space.
For more information on Pavilion Tokyo 2021, check here (in Japanese only).
Art: Yayoi Kusama / The Obliteration Room 2002-present. © Yayoi Kusama.
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