MoMA PS 1 presents Rockaway! 2018 featuring site specific installation by Yayoi Kusama
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MoMA PS 1 presents Rockaway! 2018 featuring site specific installation by Yayoi Kusama
Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden, T9 building. Site of Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden for Rockaway! 2018. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Pablo Enriquez.



LONG ISLAND CITY, NY.- This summer, MoMA PS1 is presening Yayoi Kusama’s (Japan, b. 1929) site-specific installation of Narcissus Garden (1966–present) as the third iteration of Rockaway!, a free public art festival presented with Rockaway Artists Alliance, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Narcissus Garden is on view from July 1 through September 3, 2018 at the Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden.

Comprised of 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres, Narcissus Garden is on view in a former train garage from the time when Fort Tilden was an active U.S. military base. The mirrored metal surfaces reflect the industrial surroundings of the now-abandoned building, drawing attention to Fort Tilden’s history as well as the devastating damage inflicted on many buildings in the area by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Narcissus Garden was first presented in 1966 when Kusama staged an unofficial installation and performance at the 33rd Venice Biennale. The silver spheres, originally made from plastic, were installed on the lawn in front of the Italian Pavilion, reflecting the landscape of the exhibition grounds. Kusama herself stood among them, barefoot and dressed in a gold kimono, alongside yard signs inscribed with the words “Narcissus Garden, Kusama” and “Your Narcissism for Sale.” Throughout the opening day of the exhibition, Kusama remained in the installation, tossing the spheres in the air and offering to sell them to visitors for 1200 lire (approximately $2) each. The action, which was viewed both as self-promotion and a critique on the commercialization of contemporary art, would later be seen as a pivotal moment in Kusama’s career as she transitioned from installation towards the radical and politically charged public performances that would be the focus of her work in the late 1960s in New York City.

The performances that followed the first presentation of Narcissus Garden became increasingly more elaborate and regularly involved multiple participants. Kusama often staged these happenings in or near New York City parks and cultural landmarks, including Body Festival (1967) in Tompkins Square Park and Washington Square Park, Love In Festival (1968) and Bust Out Happening (1969) in Central Park, and Grand Orgy to Awaken the Dead (1968) in the sculpture garden of The Museum of Modern Art. Iterations of Narcissus Garden have since been presented worldwide.

Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator-at-Large, Museum of Modern Art, said “six years after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Rockaways, the vulnerable area is still fighting for rebuilding and resilience. Recently, eleven blocks of one of the most popular beaches in Rockaway Park were closed due to erosion following a heavy storm in March.” Biesenbach added, "To continue to raise awareness of the ongoing restoration work and efforts to ensure the Rockaways are prepared for future effects of climate change, the collaboration between Bloomberg Philanthropies, National Park Service, Jamaica Bay Rockaway Beach Conservancy, Rockaway Artists Alliance, and MoMA PS1 continues with a third iteration of Rockaway! created in close collaboration with Yayoi Kusama, evoking her youthful, courageous, and adventurous spirit with a work she first exhibited as an emerging artist, like many of the artists who live and work in the Rockaways right now."

Thomas Secunda, Co-Founder of Bloomberg LP and Chair of the Jamaica BayRockaway Parks Conservancy, added, “The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy is proud to partner once again with MoMA PS1, Rockaway Artists Alliance, and National Park Service on this newest Rockaway! public art installation featuring the work of prolific artist, Yayoi Kusama. We are honored and extend our appreciation to Yayoi Kusama for exhibiting Narcissus Garden in Fort Tilden. Narcissus Garden will reflect the beauty of Fort Tilden and draw attention to the industrial history and urban natural environment that makes up Gateway National Recreation Area. Special thanks to Klaus Biesenbach, Joshua Laird, John Simonelli, and their dedicated teams for helping to make this possible.”

The installation of Narcissus Garden is accompanied by an exhibition in the neighboring Rockaway Artists Alliance sTudio 7 Gallery that charts the history of Rockaway! and the ongoing work of the Rockaway Artists Alliance.

Rockaway! is a celebration of the ongoing recovery of the Rockaway Peninsula following the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, organized in collaboration with the Rockaway Artists Alliance, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service. Rockaway! 2018 is a continuation of MoMA PS1’s ongoing collaborative programming alongside the Rockaway Artists Alliance that began with collaborating on rescue efforts immediately following Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and continued with the VW Dome 2 in 2013; Rockaway! in summer 2014, which featured solo projects by Patti Smith, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Janet Cardiff as well as a group show at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club; and the second iteration of Rockaway! in 2016, featuring a site-specific outdoor installation by Katharina Grosse.

Yayoi Kusama's work has transcended two of the most important art movements of the second half of the twentieth century: pop and minimalism. Her highly influential career spans paintings, performances, room-size presentations, outdoor sculptural installations, literary works, films, fashion, design, and interventions within existing architectural structures, which allude at once to microscopic and macroscopic universes.

Major touring surveys include those organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998); Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2000); National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2004); and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2008). Her work was the subject of a large-scale and well-received retrospective, which traveled from 2011 to 2012 to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. From 2012 through 2015, three major museum solo presentations of the artist’s work, Eternity of Eternal Eternity, A Dream I Dreamed, and Infinite Obsession simultaneously traveled to major museums throughout Japan, Asia, and Central and South America— all of which drew record-breaking attendances. In 2015, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark organized a comprehensive overview of Kusama’s practice, including works that span the full length of her career. The show traveled to Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Helsinki Art Museum. In 2017, The National Art Center in Tokyo hosted My Eternal Soul, a solo exhibition featuring over 130 paintings from the artist’s series of the same title, which she began in 2009, as well as works that span her entire career. Currently on view at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN), Jakarta is Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of the Rainbow (through September 9, 2018), which is organized by the National Gallery of Singapore and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, where it was previously on view. Opening at The Cleveland Museum of Art in July 2018 and at High Museum of Art, Atlanta in 2019 will be Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, a major survey of the artist’s work that was first on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, followed by the Seattle Art Museum, The Broad, Los Angeles, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.










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