Renowned Artist to Bring New Installation to Rockaway Arts Festival

Written By Laura Schier | June 29, 2018 | Published in NYC Lifestyle, Neighborhood News
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NYC's MoMA PS1 is debuting a new installation to Rockaway!, its yearly arts festival dedicated to celebrating the area’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The new exhibit, called “Narcissus Garden,” was created by renowned artist Yayoi Kusama, and is situated at an old train garage in Fort Tilden, a former Army base in Queens. It will open this Monday, July 1.

“Narcissus Garden” consists of 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres, each one an estimated foot in diameter, that were designed by Kusama to be reflective and distort the area’s surroundings. This is not the first time Kusama has presented this piece to the public; she first introduced it in 1966 at the 33rd Venice Biennale on the lawn outside the Italian Pavilion, selling the spheres (which were plastic at the time) for $2 with a sign that read “Your Narcissism for Sale” to attract the attention of passersby. Her installation at the time was a completely unofficial and meant to be a criticism of contemporary art’s commercialization, according to Curbed. After the sphere’s first public debut, Kusama traveled to New York City in the late 1960s to promote her work, showing her installation in various spots such as Tompkins Square Park and Central Park. Around 50 years later, her unique work of art has finally returned to the city, and this time it parallels with Rockaway!’s theme of recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

Kusama is collaborating with Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA’s PS1’s director, and his team to create a version of “Narcissus Garden” which “will look very, very different than before,” according to Biesenbach. For Kusama’s site-specific version of the exhibit, the mirrored spheres will reflect and distort the image of the former train garage in which the exhibit is located, designed to highlight the devastating impact of the superstorm. The train garage hosted various exhibits in the past, such as Patti Smith’s “Resilience of the Dreamer” in 2014.

For this year’s Rockaway!, MoMA PS1 is collaborating with numerous groups including the Rockaway Artists Alliance (which the art institution has teamed up with in 2014 and 2016), National Park Service, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Narcissus Garden” is expected to be a particularly popular exhibit in the festival, as its unique look is expected to attract the attention of both art lovers and selfie-takers. Kusama’s installation will remain open to the public until September 3. 

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