Questionnaire: Yayoi Kusama

What should stay the same? Peace and love among the people.

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Yayoi Kusama, Horse Play in Woodstock, a happening, 1967.

Yayoi Kusama, Horse Play in Woodstock, a happening, 1967.

What images keep you company in the space where you work? Stills from the film Kusama’s Self-Obliteration (1967), my self-portraits and numerous posters of my work.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you? Paper works with polka dots painted with my fingers that I made when I was a child.

If you could live with only one piece of art what would it be? I would like to live with all of my works, including those created in my childhood.

What is your favourite title of an art work? I love all the titles of my work. They are, for example, Infinity Nets, Infinity Dots, The Universe, Stars, etc. What do you wish you knew? I wish I knew about my own life, death, the world of nothingness, the presence of the sky, artistic philosophy and the history of humankind.

What’s your favourite journey? I look back on all the scenery I have travelled through with fond memories. The view of the Pacific Ocean I saw from the plane on my first trip to the United States was magnificent. I was looking at it with my mind set on creating lots of works in a new city.

What should change? People should stop fighting. The world should be free of wars. Our dependency on nuclear power should change.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do? As I am totally absorbed in creating works of art, I can’t think of doing anything else.

What music are you listening to? I don’t listen to music much generally, and not at all when I am working on my art.

What are you reading? I am a novelist and poet, as well as an artist. Through many varied themes, I am searching for the existence of art. I read a book every day, either about medicine, physics or art.

What do you like the look of? The look of my art. I am very pleased with the works that I have created.

Yayoi Kusama has been making art for more than 50 years. This year she has had solo shows at the Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK; Gagosian Gallery, Rome, Italy; and the Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain. Her touring retrospective, which was organized by Tate Modern, is at Centre Pompidou, Paris, 10 October 2011–9 January 2012, and Tate Modern, London, 8 February–20 May 2012 before travelling to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Kusama lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.

Issue 142

First published in Issue 142

October 2011

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