Right before shipping that copy of XPlora 1 (half.com is your friend, honest), I finally looked through the included book. Not booklet; there was a glossy little paperback that came with the disc, with musician bios, some making-of info and profiles of some of the artists whose work was included in Peter Gabriel's albums.
One of 'em was Yayoi Kusama:
"If it hadn't been for art, I'd have killed myself a long time ago." For Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, art is therapy, a way of combating the psychological consequences of being "an unwanted child born of unloving parents." Born in 1929, it was during her childhood that Kusama began to experience "repetitive visions", images of multiplying dots that crowded her visual field and infested the spaces around her. These images became the polka dots and proliferating forms that have since recurred throughout her work, which she has called "psychosomatic art".
Remember seeing the "all artists are nuts" meme floating around a few weeks back. Struck me as too ubiquitous -- and too self-evident -- to bother commenting on. Still does, actually.
A self-confessedly "obsessional" artist, Kusama's creative output responds to the dictates of her stormy, unsettled psychology, one that is deeply suspicious of authority and patriarchy. Her compulsion to create has also led her to design clothes and write six novels. "Art," Kusama says, "is both a symptom and a cause for my obsession."
Well, at least it keeps her off the streets.
Yayoi Kusama's 1999 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art brought her back to the public's eye after years of having been forgotten by the American artworld. Her revolutionary work is a confluence of painting, sculpture, performance, and installation, combining Pop, psychedelia, and her own obsessive-compulsive tendencies, through which she explores the themes of self-image, sexuality and infinity in continuous variations. Since 1973 she has lived in a mental institution in Japan, where she continues to make art which sparks inspiration for today's young artists.
Ok, not what I needed to hear. . .
Kay Itoi: Do you feel the "Kusama renaissance" with all these shows was well overdue, or there is a good reason for it to happen now?
Yayoi Kusama: Yes to both. Nothing new is going on in the world of art now. You see that if you go to Whitney Museum or Guggenheim. That's why they find my art refreshing and began to reappreciate it. My work prefigured many art movements such as Pop art.
[. . .]
KI: Your work has been categorized as feminist art and recently, to use a fashionable term, as outsider art.
YK: I'm not interested in those categories. Museums try to include me in their group shows of all kinds -- Minimal art, Pop art, women art. But Kusama is Kusama, not anything else.
KI: Ever since you left for the United States alone in 1957, you have led quite an unconventional life, particularly for a woman from a wealthy family in a conservative rural town in the postwar Japan. Why do you think you could do that?
YK: The environment was so conservative that I fought to get out. Growing up, I was constantly told to behave appropriately as a girl. When I wanted to get a driver's license, my mother said that I could get a chauffeured car if I married well. When I said I wanted to be a painter, she told me to be an art collector instead. But I was not discouraged because I knew I was talented. Before leaving for New York, I burned large paintings I had done because I knew I would produce much better ones in New York. They could be worth $6 million now. I was that intense and determined.
I mentioned the nuts thing, yes?
Compared to that, nothing really to say about Greg Ruth, except that he wrote and illustrated a Matrix story that, like most of the material at the site, is as good as the film if not better. They make it look so easy, too.