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Yayoi Kusama, Walking Piece, 1966

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Yayoi Kusama, Walking Piece, 1966

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Narrator: In the slide projection Walking Piece, Kusama walks the streets of New York, dressed in a bright pink, floral kimono. She carries a large umbrella, also bedecked in flowers. The outfit is deliberately exotic, but the streets she walks are anything but. She travels through abandoned industrial environments, past lonely cars and cheap advertisements, and encounters a homeless man sprawled out under a tree.

The work is a performance, photographed by the Japanese photographer Eiko Hosoe. At home in Japan, Kusama’s preferred mode of dress had been consistently modern. In New York, she would sometimes wear traditional Japanese clothing as a means of declaring her outsider status. In Walking Piece, the delicate kimono contrasts with and highlights the cruel, commercial, alienating side of the city.

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