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Obliteration Room

by Lilith Grace

We all like to make our mark. But who would dare put a mark on a gallery wall?

This Winter, Dunedin people were invited to make marks all over an installation by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Kusama specialises in dots of colour, and in her installation Obliteration Room , we applied her dots wherever we chose.

The Obliteration Room looked like a domestic interior: an open-plan kitchen, dining, and living room. The room was filled with familiar objects: benches, sink, toaster, electric jug, chairs and table, plates and bowls, bookshelves, couch, guitar, TV, fireplace, desk, desk-lamp, computer. Everything was white, to match the floor, walls and ceiling. When the exhibition opened, only shadows hinted there was anything there at all.

Set in the walls were window-frames containing windows, but there was no view out: only mirrors reflecting the interior. The room was at once homely, claustrophobic, and void. There were no personal touches, no signs of occupation.

It was a blank canvas.

Each visitor was given a sheet of coloured-dot stickers, in a range of sizes. The only restriction was that we couldn't take the dots out of the exhibition. Objects were soon touched all over with bright spots. Dotted names and patterns appeared on walls and floor. By consensus, the sink filled up with blue, and the fireplace with orange and yellow.

Holding my sheet of stickers and pondering where to put them, I found myself grinning like an idiot. Everyone else was grinning too. Putting stickers all over the gallery was delightfully transgressive fun.

I visited the Obliteration Room when it was somewhere between blank and coloured: bright dots swarmed in the whiteness, dissolving the space.
You can see how drab we look in our winter clothes, while the room pulses around us.

So, Happy Spring, everyone! Please

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