The AGO Infinity Room exhibition was a success, but do fans pay for a permanent room?


HELLO TORONTO! How much do you want to see the new Yayoi Kusama? I can not hear you

Last spring, the answer to the question would have been a deafening crash: 169,000 people lined up to see a Kusama exhibit at the Ontario Art Gallery that featured several Infinite Mirror Rooms, small mirrored cabins in which visitors can take pictures of themselves in beautiful views of a sparkling black space. But today, like the AGO, it struggles to reach an ambitious crowdfunding goal that would bring $ 2 million Infinite Mirror Room to Toronto permanently, the fans seemed to have calmed down considerably. On Friday, with one week remaining for the one-month campaign, the AGO reached only 32% of the target.

The AGO is using its long exposure mailing list to reach people who bought tickets last spring, promising that anyone who donates $ 25 will be able to snoop on the new baby before being revealed to the public. By Friday afternoon, 3,128 people had contributed, raising about $ 414,000 to a goal of $ 1.3 million. (The AGO Foundation is putting up half of the $ 2 million labor price, the public is being asked to cover the other half plus the costs of bringing it here.)

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We will survive forever for Yayoi Kusama at the Art Gallery of the Infinity Mirror Room in Ontario.

Maris Hutchinson / The Canadian Press

To reignite the excitement, Friday the AGO disclosed the name and description of the mysterious piece that is buying: Infinity Mirror Room – Let's Survive Forever is filled with mirrored orbs and includes a mirrored column to multiply reflective effects. It is larger than some of the other Kusama pieces and can accommodate four people at a time. Kusama makes four copies of each room; another copy of the We will survive forever can be seen at the Wndr Museum in Chicago as part of an experimental exhibition in which it is borrowed by a private collector.

The AGO, which launched the fundraising campaign alone, is now partnering with Giving Tuesday, the charitable donation movement linked to US Thanksgiving, to help raise the rest of the money. An AGO representative confirmed that with half of the foundation funding secured, the gallery has an agreement with the Kusama dealer and the room is already being built for Toronto. Asked if the gallery made a payment, Andrea-Jo Wilson said the AGO has a policy of not disclosing details about financial arrangements.

The scale of the AGO's crowdfunding campaign is unprecedented in Canadian museums, which tend to rely on private donors to buy art, and its slow start suggests that the hype about the Kusama exhibit in Toronto may have been just that – rather than a deep engagement with the artist's work. The three-month exhibition that opened in March was a complete retrospective of the Japanese artist's career since emerging as an experimental artist on the New York scene in the 1960s. He argued convincingly that she was an important figure whose innovation was often neglected and whose idiosyncratic art persisted thematically from pop to contemporary installation. He placed his current popularity in the serious context of an interactive art that specifically addressed issues of self and community. It seems doubtful, however, that many visitors had time to understand the curatorial argument: only three visitors at a time could have a stay of only 20 seconds in each Infinity Room and queuing to get in all six at the show would have taken well over an hour.

Phalli's Field, by Yayoi Kusama, in the Infinity Mirror Room.

Fred Lum / the Globe and Mail

The success of the Kusama show may be an example of the blockbuster phenomenon or festival where audiences respond very strongly to an exciting moment in the artistic setting – and the pressure of a deadline – without necessarily forming a long-term commitment to an institution or a form of art. It's the same psychology that sees the ranks of museum members only temporarily inflated by expensive shows or that make it easy for TIFF to attract people to the September film festival, but harder to build a year-round audience for its programming in Lightbox Lightbox. .

Were the torontinos just in love? They have a week to prove that Kusama caused a permanent impression.


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