I am thrilled to announce that History of Photography recently published my article, “Reflective Acts and Mirrored Images: Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden.” The text can be accessed through the Taylor & Francis website.
In the summer of 1966, the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama installed Narcissus Garden in the main grounds of the 33rd Venice Biennale. Fifteen hundred mirrored plastic balls formed the core of a dynamic, complex work, which also included human agents, environmentally determined, ephemeral elements, and photographic images. The common thread, however, was the presence of the artist herself, captured for posterity in nearly every existing photograph of Narcissus Garden. Taken collectively, these images of Kusama and her work create a complicated amalgam of self-publicity and effacement, presenting a complex fusion of artist, image, and object. Photographs do not supplement the sculpture, Narcissus Garden, but function as an integral component of the work, acting as the connective tissue amongst its multiple parts.