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Love is Calling, Yayoi Kusama’s thought-provoking exhibit is on display at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art

By Danielle Miller

“Over many long years, with art as a weapon/ I have treaded the path in search of love,” tells Yayoi Kusama to her audience. “This is my message of love to you.”

This autumn, experience the creative ingenuity of Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, through her Love is Calling installation at the Boston Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). Love is Calling is an excellent demonstration of her ability to capture complex concepts and expand upon their emotional repercussions.

The exhibit sits inside an unassuming cubic structure near the gallery entrance. Upon entry, the viewer is guided into a room covered from floor to ceiling in mirrors. Large, polka-dotted, neon tentacles grow out of the mirrors into the space between, creating reflections that stretch infinitely away from the viewer. Kusama’s calm voice is projected overhead as she reads a self-written poem in her native Japanese tongue. An English translation of this poem is printed on the wall just outside the exit.

Love is Calling is one of many installations in her Infinity Mirror Room collection, each featuring elements of Kusama’s signature polka dots and nets. Her style is often described as psychedelic and experimental; she uses diverse visual and auditory concepts to emulate the experience of “infinity.”

Sam Wise, an ICA visitor assistant, spoke about Love is Calling’s popularity since its opening in 2019.

“From the moment it opened,” Wise said, “it’s been one of the most popular exhibits here, if not the most popular.”

When asked about her opinion on Love is Calling, gallery operator Lindsey Flickinger said, “I get different perspectives every single day…because I’m talking to so many people about it. There are days when I’m doing a lot more educating for people who have never interacted with different aspects of art like this.”

Other guests, Wise added, find the installation through social media.

“This is a pretty popular place to take a Tinder photo.”

Both employees were enthusiastic to mention a young guest who recently brought good news to the exhibit.

Flickinger said, “A visitor just came through that learned about Kusama in elementary school. That’s been a shift over the last couple of years, where Kusama has been introduced to the elementary school canon.”

“We were just talking about how cool that was,” said Wise.

Love is Calling is a unique and thought-provoking experience that ICA guests of all ages are sure to enjoy. The exhibit will be displayed in the ICA until December 31, 2022. Each party is given a two-minute viewing period, and there are no more than six people allowed inside during that time. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, and free for BU students who present a valid ID.


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