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  • Writer's pictureArts Angle Vantage Journalist

Installing Yayoi Kusama "Infinity Room," a new Speed exhibit, no small feat

By Alexander Place | Arts Angle Vantage Reporter

Homeschool Student, Class of 2027

LISTEN • Installing Yoyio Kusama's Infinity RoomBy Alexander Place

This story reported and produced as part of the 2024 Earshot Audio Storytelling Program.

Above: Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room – Let’s Survive Forever," 2017. Courtesy of the artist, David Zwirner, Ota Fine Arts, and Victoria Miro. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Left: Reporter Alexander Place interviews Speed Art Museum preparators as they install the Kusama's art piece.

ADDISON LOWRY, HOST: As Kentucky’s oldest art museum, The Speed Art Museum has an important role in the community. It contains classic works by Rembrandt and Monet as well as recent ones like Amy Sherald’s painting of Breonna Taylor. The Speed continues to connect with and surprise the community with new works. That’s part of the plan with a new addition, as Arts Angle Vantage’s Alexander Place reports.


ALEXANDER PLACE, BYLINE: Walk into a room at The Speed. What do you expect to see? An old, musty painting on the wall, a bust of a random old man? Instead, imagine you see

yourself — stretching out as far as your eye can see. This is Yayoi Kusama’s infinity room “Let’s Survive Forever.” But right now, it is in pieces ready to be installed.


HANNAH McAULAY: It came with over 30 crates on it. This one full was 734 pounds. That's actually pretty light. This is for some of the wall panels. Some of the crates are like 8 or

900 pounds.

Speed Art Museum registrar Hannah McAulay talks with Arts Angle Vantage reporter Alexander Place about the shipments coming in to put together the new exhibit.


PLACE: Hannah McAulay, a Speed staff member, is standing in what will be the infinity room. There are empty boxes strewn around and workers gathered around a table, fitting together brackets. These museum preparators, like Mike Stauss, have a difficult job.

MIKE STAUSS: I'm making some adjustments to the door for this piece. For our installation, we have to switch which side the hinges are on for the door.

PLACE: The build is packaged and sent in such a way that it is like putting a model together. Once finished, the infinity room will be a large box. The inside covered in mirrors meticulously placed. Now, they are arrayed around the third floor of the Speed, waiting to be attached to the main body. The workers can’t add them until all the pieces are ready. There are still problems to overcome, but Mike isn’t worried.


STAUSS: It can be the hardest, one of the hardest things, but I find it the most enjoyable because I get to problem solve and tackle a challenge that I wasn't expecting. 

A detailed view of Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room – Let’s Survive Forever," 2017, once the museum has it installed. Courtesy of the artist, David Zwirner, Ota Fine Arts, and Victoria Miro. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

PLACE: Yayoi Kusama. age 95, is one of the greatest contemporary artists of the last generation. Her art, initially made to calm her own mental distress, now draws many to it. The infinity rooms she created are for everyone to connect with. She describes the room as a way to “self-obliteration.” First shown in 2017 in Chelsea, New York, this infinity room is one of her most popular works.  Here’s Hannah McAulay.


McAULAY: Kusama is a highlight. I mean, she's a super, mega-star. It's kind of one of those bucket list artists and exhibitions to put on.

TYLER BLACKWELL: We hope that visitors will have their experience in the room in which they can sort of reflect upon their own lives, their selves.

Tyler Blackwell, Speed Art Museum's Curator of Contemporary Art, talks with reporter Alexander Place about the significance of Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room – Let’s Survive Forever."

PLACE: Tyler Blackwell is the Speed Art Museum's curator of contemporary art. He is currently overseeing setting up this room in a meaningful way — and at this particular



BLACKWELL: And especially post-pandemic, we are also conscious of how we might exist. “Let's Survive Forever” — you know, suggests that we may exist forever, right? So, how do we think about our own existence? How do we think about the traces we may leave behind?


PLACE: These are the types of questions that this artwork inspires: to think of the past and to our future. It is a chance to, as Tyler puts it…


BLACKWELL: Experience her work firsthand, to sort of experience the Kusama, the Kusama moment.


PLACE: The very point of Kusama’s work is to bring people together in a better way. It was wildly enjoyed across all the locations it has been to, and this will be the first time this infinity room will be in the region. The exhibit opens on July 12. For Arts Angle Vantage, I’m Alexander Place.

Alexander Place (he,him), a homeschooled student, is active in club soccer and archery. He is a drawing and music enthusiast. He plays for Shelby Soccer Club and strives for knowledge in everything.


Made possible by Metro Louisville and the University of Louisville Department of Communications and Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning.


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