Yayoi Kusama, Heaven and Earth, 1991
NARRATOR: In Kusama’s early Accumulation sculptures, phallic forms multiply over the surfaces of objects, seeming to colonize them totally. In Heaven and Earth, by contrast, those forms are literally boxed in. During the eighties and nineties Kusama often staged her sculptures in containers or dioramas, as if in response to her own relatively confined circumstances. At the same time, the sculpture testifies to her lifelong exploration of growth and transformation. Many of the forms overrun their containers. Long, sinuous curves make some of them seem more plant-like than phallic. As in the early Accumulations, there’s something comic about the proliferation of phalluses. But that humor is charged with the desperation of confinement, and tempered by the sculpture’s moments of formal elegance.