During one of the hottest day of the season, I made my way to the Rockaway to experience Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden. Hosted by MoMA PS1. Narcissus Garden is a site-specific installation part of Rockaway! A free art festival presented with the Rockaway Artists Alliance, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, and Bloomberg Philanthropies in the Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden.
Spending summer in New York City means that at some time in the season you’ll find your way heading to The Rockaway Peninsula. Best known as The Rockaways or Rockaway. New Yorkers’ go-to destination for a day in the sun and the beach. Or with art if you happened to be an art lover like me.
Narcissus Garden (1966–present) is made up of 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres. Spread all throughout a former train garage dating back to when Fort Tilden was a U.S. military base. The spheres’ shiny and futuristic aspect juxtaposed with the abandoned worn outlook of the site makes for aesthetically pleasing visuals.
The mood gives off a somber but mindful feel as you quietly admire and walk throughout the area. Giving the feel of it being a mirage harboring endless stories and feelings. “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.”
Yayoi Kusama first presented Narcissus Garden in 1966. During an unofficial performance and staged installation at the 33rd Venice Biennale. The spheres then made of plastic, were placed on the lawn of the Italian Pavilion. Kusama dressed in a gold kimono became one with the installation. She offered to sell the spheres to passing visitors for 1,200 lire. About $2 dollars. Kusama remained part of the installation as she stood among the sphere and signs that read “Your Narcissism for Sale” and “Narcissus Garden, Kusama”. The public presentation critique the materialistic driven contemporary art market. Narcissus Garden was a pivotal stance that helped catapult Yayoi Kusama towards politically driven and radical performances which became part of her artistic focus.
“The installation of Narcissus Garden is accompanied by an exhibition in the neighboring Rockaway Artist Alliance gallery that charts the history of Rockaway! and the ongoing work of the Rockaway Artist Alliance.”
I’ve been featuring the Rockaway! Summer art’ program since its first edition. The program is a celebration of the ongoing recovery after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Check out my past stories to get a better feel and plan your little getaway before the summer is over.
For my look, I was inspired to wear complimentary handmade designs in metal by the talented Angely Martinez. A recent FIT graduate and winner of the 2018’s MJSA Vision Award. El Jardin (Object D’Art/ Flower Girl Basket) made with silver plated sterling silver, copper, and pearl. And the magnificent Brooch titled Mientras Miraba La Luna made with sterling silver, druzy cab, and nickel.
–Complete the Look–
Photography: Tatiana Katkova