Bea’s SWAN Day 2020: Contemporary Art

Need to add some movies to your quarantine queue? FF2’s got you! SWAN day’s gone virtual for 2020. Our team has compiled a bunch of films celebrating women artists across myriad categories. And the films are made by women, too! Watch at your own leisure, or have a marathon on the official SWAN weekend of March 28th. 

Kusama, Infinity, featuring contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama

Kusama, Infinity is a documentary about Yayoi Kusama, one of Japan’s most famous female contemporary artists. Kusama’s works range from traditional media like sculpture and painting to performative arts, often containing sexual, psychological and autobiographical themes. Her trademark is her usage of polka dots, with the repetition also serving art therapy. Kusama Infinity is a visual masterpiece, showcasing Kusama’s influential, expressive works while investigating her life, struggles and inspirations.

Kusama was born in Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan. She was the youngest of four in an affluent family and had a troubled childhood. Kusama took interest in arts at an early age, but her mother was not supportive and often abusive, forcing her to rush her creations lest they be taken away. Her father was also a womanizer, and Kusama would be sent by her mother to spy on his affairs. These traumatic experiences would contribute to lifelong battles with mental illness, hallucinations, depression, and both disdain and obsession with sex. 

Still, despite her family’s distaste, Kusama was determined to become a painter. She decided to pack her bags for New York, which came with a new challenge: breaking into the art world, a predominantly white and male space, as both a Japanese immigrant and a woman. Kusama struggled immensely during this time. Though she painted her now famous “infinity nets”, created the first known mirror room and delved into many mediums like sculpture, her work remained largely unrecognized. Kusama only gained publicity with her nude protests against the Vietnam War, which also unfortunately scandalized her. Outcasted by the community she worked desperately to impress, Kusama’s inner demons would fuel bouts of depression, and even lead to a suicide attempt.

Eventually, Kusama would move back to Japan, but then became frustrated with the country’s conservative art community. Her parents shunned her, so she ended up checking herself into Seiwa Mental Hospital, where she still lives to this day. Kusama entered a quieter phase in her life and could focus on her mental health. As a result, critics finally became more receptive to and would finally exhibit her works, rekindling her interest in art. Now, Kusama is the world’s most successful female artist, and Kusama Infinity honors her by being a beautiful tribute to a resilient woman.

Available for streaming [here]

Read FF2’s review of the film: [here]

Photos: Yayoi Kusama working on a creation; Yayoi Kusama blending in with a white background with red polka dots, wearing a shirt with the same pattern

Photo Credits: Magnolia Pictures

SWAN Day Poster Design: Emma Werowinski

© Beatrice Viri 3/21/2020 FF2 Media

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Beatrice Viri
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Beatrice Viri pursued a degree in Media Studies at Hunter College, specializing in Emerging Media (digital media production). She has experience in graphic design, web development, motion graphics and film, as well as media analysis. For FF2 Media, Bea creates original content for blog publication, writing out prompted ideas that engages audience. 
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