MoMA PS1 has once again brought their crack aesthetic instincts and curatorial muscle out to Fort Tilden for the summer, this year hosting a fantastic installation by one of the most popular artists of our time, Yayoi Kusama’s “Narcissus Garden.”
The piece features 1,500 stainless steel spheres polished to a nearly-mirror-like finish and set within a decaying train garage that dates back to when this whole area was a military base. It’s a site-specific update of a Kusama classic; her first “Garden” was in 1966, a rogue performance at the Venice Biennial at which she threw her orbs of narcissism into the air and offered to sell them to the art swells walking by for $2 each. Though it’s appeared in New York City several times before, it’s never been seen here on a scale this large.
As you can see from the pictures above, putting this many shiny silver balls in a dramatic setting makes for a highly photogenic experience. As with most of Kusama’s installations that have appeared in the age of Instagram, you can expect Narcissus Garden to attract crowds all summer. Even in the alarmingly hot weather yesterday there were plenty of art fans willing to haul it on over to Fort Tilden; usually before, during, or after a trip to the beach, obviously, but still, this is not the most convenient location.
MoMA PS1 is allowing 25 guests to be in the space at once, with no set time limit to your stay, though they do ask that you keep your visit to five minutes long, which, frankly, is plenty. You can walk slowly on narrow paths through the balls, and there’s room on the perimeter as well, which allows you to see the work from multiple angles and really deepens the experience. Volunteers working the line provide cups of water and umbrellas for shade, and there’s a small concession stand selling packaged snacks and, uh, bags of silver gum balls.
Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama will be at Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden through September 3. The exhibition is open every Friday through Sunday, plus July 4 and Labor Day, from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free.