Love is Calling @ Boston’s ICA

I had the opportunity to visit Yayoi Kasuma’s Love is Calling exhibition at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, and want to share the entire experience with this blog. While I think many people have seen posts on social media of the interior, I believe that many are not aware of what the exhibition itself entails.

Typical social media selfie… yes – that’s me.

Let me start by saying it was a positive one – despite the fact that there is essentially only one two minute “experience” at the core of Love Is Calling. The ICA manages it as well as can be expected given the demand, and was well prepared. As one docent working the exhibit said, “You wouldn’t believe the amount of training we did.” And clearly the training worked: the exhibition was organized and well-staffed – two of the essentials when dealing with a crowd.

The timed tickets for Love is Calling are being given out incrementally online – only a few weeks offered at at a time, all of which seem to sell out quickly. This strategy maintains a high demand for the exhibition, which is a savvy strategy, with ICA members having first dibs (so if you really want tickets, become a member or make friends with one).

A timeline contextualizes Kasuma’s work for visitors

Love is Calling is up on the 4th floor and you have to line up amusement-park style and wait for your turn inside what is essentially a large mirrored box.

Love is Calling and a portion of the line… A peek into the exhibition is visible.

Visitors are taken inside, in groups of between 5 and 7 at a time.

My children, doing their own version of waiting in line…

After a briefing on proper Love is Calling etiquette (you cannot bring anything but a camera or camera phone, you’ll have two minutes inside, no touching the exhibit, you’ll hear Kasuma’s voice reciting a poem in Japanese inside, find the docent in the corner if you need to leave early), you are brought inside.

The door shuts behind you and you are left in a mesmerizing mirrored box. Every surface is reflective, creating the signature infinity experience for which Kasuma is known.

A look inside the infinity room from the outside, with the door open (right side)

The experience is enjoyable, and Kasuma has managed to create something unique – a breathtaking work of art that one explores with wonder and delight from the inside. In this day and age, having contemporary artwork that excites the masses and generates hype is invaluable.

My children posing inside with me. Photo credit goes to Ann Marie Teuber (my mother), seen in distance.

In a poll of my two children (two of the most honest, and harshest critics I know) one said they thought it was worth the wait in line, the other said it wasn’t. But the look of delight on both their faces when they were inside suggests that it won’t be an experience they’ll soon forget.

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