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I close the door. Silence. A million twinkling lights sparkle around me, dazzling and mesmerising. This is Fireflies on the Water, an interactive installation by Yayoi Kusama…

Visiting Fireflies on the Water Installation

It’s a Friday morning at the Centre Pompidou de Metz. Outside the rain drizzles and inside the vast exterior is lit by a series of artificial lights. It may be daytime, but that doesn’t mean it’s light outside! We make our way through the impressive exhibition space and our guide informs us that one large room encompasses one of the largest hanging spaces for artwork in all of Europe. The museum is impressive, to say the least.

As I reach the top floor of the museum, I head into an exhibition space that overlooks the entire city of Metz. Inside, a whole cacophony of artworks, installations and paintings greets me. But one certain red box really catches my eye. I enter inside, only to find another door. “Someone’s inside right now,” a room guide informs me cheerfully. I wait a few minutes and the door opens.

I make a little ‘o’ shape with my mouth, but respect the no-rule silence that everyone who visits museums tends to adopt. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve been this astonished by something since I discovered that Paris is full of hidden vineyards (yes, really!). I step into the little room and I close the door. Silence. A million twinkling lights sparkle around me, dazzling and mesmerising. This is Fireflies on the Water, an interactive installation by Yayoi Kusama…

Inside the little room, mirror upon mirror reflects light upon light. The whole piece is stunning and impressive. A million rainbows dancing across the room. Created in 2002, the installation comprises of Mirror, plexiglass, 150 lights and water. There may be few ingredients in this art recipe, but the results are astounding.

Fireflies on the water installation

Who is Yayoi Kusama?

Yayoi Kusama is largely considered to be one of the greatest still living artists to have emerged from Japan in recent years. Born in 1929, 88-year-old Kusama is a Japanese artist, poet and writer. As a young adult, Kusama lived through WWII, where she worked in a military factory fabricating clothing and other equipment.

Of her adolescence, Kusama says that she spent her time “in closed darkness”. She cites her younger years as a great influence on her later works and a time where she grew to appreciate personal and creative freedom. In the late 1950s, she moved to New York City. There, she produced lots of abstract paintings, before changing to the medium of installations and sculptures.

Other equally unique installations and works of art by her include “Obliteration Room” and “Infinity Mirrors”. Though not dissimilar from her previous works, Fireflies on the Water highlight Kusama’s fascination with the hidden, with the mysterious, with the infinite, and of course, with the darkness…

Fireflies on the water installation

About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!

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