The Newest Yayoi Kusama Sensation Is Your Perfect Summer Instagram

It’s time once again for your regular reminder that you’ll never be as prolific as the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has been in the past few years—which is to say ever since she's entered her late eighties. Never mind that she’s already been a force in the art world for decades; now 89, the artist has proven strikingly successful in her mission to take it over, kicking off the years-long world tour of her 65-year retrospective, which has already broken museum attendance records and had to instate strict rules that allow visitors only 30 seconds per selfie, sneakily building herself her own museum, and now once again asserting her reign as Instagram’s favorite artist with a new installation on the beach in Queens, New York, for which she’s transported 1,500 reflective stainless steel balls to the Rockaways.

Sanctioned by MoMA PS1, the Rockaway Artists Alliance, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, and Bloomberg Philanthropies, this latest iteration of “Narcissus Garden” is a far cry from the original version of the installation, which Kusama first orchestrated decades ago—without permission—at the 1966 Venice Biennale. Before it was shut down, she stood next to a sign that read “Your Narcissism for Sale” amidst her spread of reflective silver balls, throwing them up into the air and selling them for a mere $2 apiece—a move she later pointedly compared to “selling hot dogs or ice cream cones.”

Yayoi Kusama with the first iteration of "Narcissus Garden," installed in Venice Biennale, in 1966.

At that point, each ball was made of plastic, though in the decades that have passed during which Kusama was absorbed in staging nude happenings and making capitalist critiques, they’ve become stainless steel—making it all the more miraculous that they normally appear floating, in ponds ranging in location from Central Park to Connecticut, to Brazil and to an outdoor art oasis in the south of France. This time, though, she’s shifted them over to water to land. In the concrete shell of the former train garage that dates back to the beach’s days as the army base Fort Tilden, it turns out to have the same eerie effect as when they’re mysteriously floating, reflecting the abandonment and damage from Hurricane Sandy that its interiors have since weathered.

Yayoi Kusama’s "Narcissus Garden" in the south of France. Photo by Matthieu Salvaing.

As has become usual for Rockaway!, MoMA PS1’s annual free public art festival, PS1’s director and MoMA’s chief curator at large Klaus Biesenbach led the brigade to the site on the Friday morning prior to its official opening on July 1st, welcoming Patti Smith and more aboard a ferry to join him in being among those to get first dibs on Instagramming Kusama's latest. Take an early look at all the stainless steel that'll likely be gracing your feed until September, here.

#rockawaykusama is open from sunday on and for free @rockaway_artists_alliance

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Related: Part of a $1 Million Kusama Installation Damaged by Probable Selfie Accident













Yayoi Kusama by Noriko Takasugi, 2014.

Photo © Noriko Takasugi.

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