Experiential art emerged in the 1960s with artists such as the Japanese avant-gardist Yayoi Kusama, who championed the idea of creating immersive works that demanded in-person viewing and participation. These installations were intended to create a non-commodified art experience that distanced itself from the trappings of the art market, and to provide the viewer with a meditative and sometimes hallucinatory encounter. But more than five decades after Kusama launched her first “infinity mirror room” at the Castellane Gallery in New York in 1965, an experience that was once intended as a practice about presence has arguably become a mainstream marketing concept, with museums, commercial galleries and pop-up spaces around the US cashing in on the trend.
All this popularity comes at a price, however. Kusama’s most recent iteration, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM—DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE (2019) at David Zwirner in New York (until 14 December), saw three- to four-hour wait times during its opening week, with visitors queuing around the block. Those hoping to see her installation All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016) during Art Basel in Miami Beach, an off-site project organised by the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami in the Design District (until 31 January 2020), are warned to “expect long wait times due to the exhibition’s popularity and limited capacity” during first-come, first-served free admission on Thursdays; timed $15 tickets for slots during Miami Art Week have already sold out. (The Miami installation is also incidentally at the centre of a closely watched lawsuit brought by the German financial investment firm Fine Art Partners [FAP], which says it owned the work, against the dealer Inigo Philbrick, for allegedly selling it to Saudi Arabia without the company’s knowledge.)
For everyone willing to brave the crowds for that perfect selfie, here are some of the top immersive art exhibitions to see in Miami this week.