yayoi kusama's inflatable works take over manchester in 'you, me & the balloons' exhibition

yayoi kusama's inflatable works take over manchester in 'you, me & the balloons' exhibition

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YAYOI KUSAMA: YOU, ME and tHE BALLOONS

 

From 30 June to 28 August 2023, Manchester International Festival presents You, Me and the Balloons, a major site-specific exhibition showcasing Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable artworks. The show brings together a remarkable collection of artworks spanning the past 30 years, including iconic pieces like a giant pumpkin, inflatable dolls, mirrored spaces, and polka-dot spheres, many of which have never been exhibited in the UK. Following her acclaimed retrospective at Tate Modern in 2012, this exhibition marks Kusama’s largest and most ambitious immersive environment to date and is specially designed for Aviva Studios, Factory International’s flagship new venue by Ellen van Loon, OMA Partner and lead architect.

yayoi kusama's inflatable works take over manchester in 'you, me & the balloons' exhibition
Dots Obsession, 2013 installation view from Manchester International Festival 2023 exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’ at Aviva Studios | image © David Levene (head image: A Bouquet of Love I Saw in the Universe, 2021 installation view from Manchester International Festival 2023 exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’ at Aviva Studios | image © David Levene)

 

 

a wonderland of inflatable sculptures by yayoi kusama 

 

Inviting visitors to immerse themselves in Kusama’s captivating psychedelic universe, You, Me and the Balloons presents a mesmerizing journey through a vibrant landscape of large-scale inflatable sculptures. Towering over 10 meters tall or suspended from the impressive 21-meter-high ceiling, these colorful creations create an enchanting atmosphere for all who enter the new venue at Factory International (find more here).

 

‘It would be interesting if people would experience the show as a wonderland. The experience of the scale is what’s important. Inflatable works expanded my creative means in terms of scale that could not have been achieved by stuffed soft sculptures, and the freedom of placing them up in the air,’ shares Yayoi Kusama. ‘For me, the world is genuinely full of surprises. It is not that I want to inspire a childlike awe or wonder, but to inspire through my genuine perception of the world.’ 

yayoi kusama's inflatable works take over manchester in 'you, me & the balloons' exhibition
A Bouquet of Love I Saw in the Universe, 2021 installation view from Manchester International Festival 2023 exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’ at Aviva Studios | image © David Levene

 

 

biomorphic balloons and immersive polka dots 

 

Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are guided through a tunnel that leads to a captivating iteration of The Hope of the Polka Dots Buried in Infinity will Eternally Cover the Universe (2019). This maze-like installation mesmerizes with its floor-to-ceiling arrangement of large-scale biomorphic balloons. Ascending the stairs within the installation, visitors are greeted by a roof platform offering panoramic views of the entire exhibition. The platform serves as a perfect vantage point before descending into the main Warehouse space.

 

Inside the Warehouse, the iconic Dots Obsession series (1996/2023) takes on a new form. Large inflatable polka-dot shapes, suspended in mid-air, create a constellation that spans the impressive 65-meter length of the space. Furthermore, visitors can enter one of Kusama’s renowned infinity mirror rooms, housed within a striking red inflatable dome, as part of the immersive experience of Dots Obsession (2013).

yayoi kusama's inflatable works take over manchester in 'you, me & the balloons' exhibition
Yayoi-chan, 2021-2023 installation view from Manchester International Festival 2023 exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’ at Aviva Studios | image © David Levene

 

 

The exhibition also includes Song of a Manhattan Suicide Addict (2007), a compelling video projection featuring Kusama singing about her personal journey with depression. Additionally, visitors can encounter a specially created presentation of Kusama’s inflatable Clouds (2023), positioned on the floor. These soft sculptures, for the first time, invite visitors to sit or lie on them, offering a unique interactive element.

 

For an awe-inspiring experience, visitors can immerse themselves in A Bouquet of Love I Saw in the Universe (2021), an extraordinary colossal work spanning over 11 meters in length. This inflatable forest enchants with its giant glowing pink tentacles, enveloping visitors in its magical presence.

yayoi kusama's inflatable works take over manchester in 'you, me & the balloons' exhibition
Dots Obsession, 2013 installation view from Manchester International Festival 2023 exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’ at Aviva Studios | image © David Levene

yayoi kusama's inflatable works take over manchester in 'you, me & the balloons' exhibition
Life of the Pumpkin Recites, All About the Biggest Love for the People, 2019 installation view from Manchester International Festival 2023 exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’ at Aviva Studios | image © David Levene

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installation view from Manchester International Festival 2023 exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’ at Aviva Studios | image © David Levene

yayoi kusama's inflatable works take over manchester in 'you, me & the balloons' exhibition
Clouds, 2023 installation view from Manchester International Festival 2023 exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’ at Aviva Studios | image © David Levene

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A Bouquet of Love I Saw in the Universe, 2021 installation view from Manchester International Festival 2023 exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’ at Aviva Studios | image © David Levene

yayoi kusama's inflatable works take over manchester in 'you, me & the balloons' exhibition
Yayoi Kusama, The Hope of the Polka Dots Buried in Infinity will Eternally Cover the Universe, 2019. installation view, Fosun Foundation, Shanghai | image courtesy of Ota Fine Arts and Victoria Miro © Yayoi Kusama

 

 

project info: 

 

name: You, Me and the Balloons
artist: Yayoi Kusama
location: Aviva Studios, Factory International
event: Manchester International Festival 
dates:
30 June – 28 August 2023

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