In an odd corner of the second floor of the south gallery of the Phoenix Art Museum I noted a white arrow stenciled on the beige wall. It pointed towards a dark gap in the otherwise bright gallery. There, tucked into the black cavern, was another stencil, this on white on black, beckoning one in. Cautiously I stepped into the darkness, inching forward slowly around the corner. My eye caught movement and I paused. I made out the dark on dark backlit form of myself in the unlit mirrored wall. I turned again and noticed a small green light hanging from a thin black wire at eye level before my face. It slowly changed from green to blue then faded away. I noticed another. And another. And a hundred-thousand more. I inched forward another cautious step. I slowly realized what I was seeing. A great grin cracked my face and I smiled, oh, how I smiled, there in the dark for no one to see. I smiled until my face hurt and would have laughed but I was too delighted to even think of it.
I walked forward amid the slowly breathing lights. I found the mirrored walls more by instinct than anything else. I stood and slowly turned, trying to grasp the tiny size of the vast space within which I stood, the hushed footfalls of the lofty galleries behind me far, far away. It was utterly dark, like space, yes, but a warm and welcoming space filled with tiny pulsing lights which illuminate nothing. Behind me, one or two swung where I had brushed them in passing, before coming to rest again. The colors would shift, a mix of blue, green, and yellow, and some lights would go out or come on, moving through an intense range of colors to only a very few sparse red sparks.
I found the exit and came out, still silently laughing into the bright gallery, only to follow my own footsteps back to the entrance. This time, I strolled in with less hesitation but no less delighted wonder. I found a spot that felt to be in the middle, and sat cross legged. I rested my wrists on my knees and simply was. I took my glasses off and let the tiny lights fuzz like an impressionist painting. It was far beyond a transcendental experience, because this was not something manufactured by my mind, but my her mind, Yayoi Kusama, the artist, and told to us in a whisper of light, bestowed like a gift of water to one who didn’t even know they were dying of thirst. It is the greatest work of art I have ever encountered.
We should all be so obliterated.