MoMA to Bring Narcissus Garden to Fort Tilden


Rockaway is getting the MoMA treatment once again and this time it’s going narcissistic. This one is sure to blow up Instagram and inspire selfies as Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden will fill a former train garage in Fort Tilden with 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres that will reflect all of its surroundings.

Kusama’s Narcissus Garden first made its debut in 1966, but now it will be heading to Fort Tilden starting July 1. MoMA PS1, the same group that has been bringing unique art exhibits to the peninsula to help revitalize the area since Hurricane Sandy, is bringing this installation as the third iteration of its Rockaway! series, a public art festival presented with the Rockaway Artists Alliance, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. The installation will be housed in one of the old military buildings, as the steel spheres will reflect the industrial surroundings of the now-abandoned building, drawing attention to Fort Tilden’s history, as well as the devastating damage inflicted on many buildings in the area by Hurricane Sandy.

Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator-at-Large, Museum of Modern Art hopes that Narcissus Garden will once again draw attention to the Rockaways, especially after it was announced that 11 blocks of beach were closed just before the season began. “Six years after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Rockaways, this vulnerable area is still fighting for rebuilding and resilience,” Biesenbach said. “Recently, 11 blocks of one of the most popular beaches in Rockaway were closed due to erosion following a heavy storm in March. To continue to raise awareness of the ongoing restoration work and efforts to ensure the Rockaways are prepared for future effects of climate change, the collaboration between Bloomberg Philanthropies, National Park Service, Jamaica Bay Rockaway Beach Conservancy, Rockaway Artists Alliance, and MoMA PS1 continues with a third iteration of Rockaway! created in close collaboration with Yayoi Kusama, evoking her youthful, courageous, and adventurous spirit with a work she first exhibited as an emerging artist, like many of the artists who live and work in the Rockaways right now."

Narcissus Garden was first presented in 1966 when Kusama staged an unofficial installation and performance at the 33rd Venice Biennale. The silver spheres, originally made from plastic, were installed on the lawn in front of the Italian Pavilion, reflecting the landscape of the exhibition grounds. Kusama herself stood among them, barefoot and dressed in a gold kimono, alongside yard signs inscribed with the words “Narcissus Garden, Kusama” and “Your Narcissism for Sale.” The installation has since made its way across the world over the years from Central Park to Paris to Brazil and beyond. Since Narcissus Garden, Kusama’s work has blossomed and evolved and some of her more recent exhibits are known to be wildly popular due to the photo opportunities they present.

The installation of Narcissus Garden will be accompanied by an exhibition in the neighboring Rockaway Artists Alliance sTudio 7 Gallery that charts the history of Rockaway! and the ongoing work of the Rockaway Artists Alliance.

MoMA PS1 has made an effort to bring an eye back to the Rockaways since right after Hurricane Sandy. Following the storm, they established the VW Dome 2 on Beach 94th Street, which was a home for vital resources, workshops, a meeting point and more. In 2014, MoMA began its Rockaway! series, in which solo projects by Patti Smith, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Janet Cardiff were scattered around Fort Tilden and a group show was on display at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Patti Smith’s Resilience of the Dreamer, a bed with curtains draped from the ceiling, was placed in the building that will now house Narcissus Garden. In 2016, MoMA PS1 let Katharina Grosse take over one of the old beachside buildings in Fort Tilden and spruce it up with red and white paint, before the building was demolished.

Narcissus Garden will make its Fort Tilden debut on July 1 and will be on view through September 3.