During a recent visit to Edinburgh, which was my first trip to the UK, I enjoyed a huge amount of art! Edinburgh has so many amazing non-profit art venues including loads of galleries tucked away seemingly around every corner. One particular exhibit I saw at the Fuirtmarket Gallery left quite an impression on me. The exhibit, titled Narcissus Reflected, explored the myth of Narcissus and the concept and cultural significance of narcissism in contemporary art in recent history. There were some very intriguing collages, photography, poetry, and even film, but the work which had the greatest impact on me was Yayoi Kusama’s installation Narcissus Garden.
The installation consisted of several hundred mirrored balls in a large open room with a few paths calling you to, essentially, come on in, relax and look at yourself for a while. Normally, I may not have made much of this. It certainly was a unique experience and made for some interesting photographs, but what struck me most is that I really hadn’t looked at myself in a while. For the last two weeks I had been staying in a hostel sleeping in a bunk bed and hurriedly showering and rushing out to explore the world. On any average day at home I’d have been faced with at least dozens of mirrors in my house, in the car, and at work and I would have spent a decent amount of time looking into them and preparing my face to meet the world. Being away from all these mirrors – all the scrutiny, judgement, vanity and simple preoccupation with my appearance – for a few weeks had left a rather substantial and beneficial impression on me. It seems that when you stop fussing over yourself for a while there’s a whole lot more time, brain power and imaginative capacity available for enjoying and learning from other people and things.
This clearly should not have been a revelation to me, but like so many simple things I should already know, it was. Thank you Narcissus. Lesson learned.