“Oh my gosh!”said Akemi. “It’s gorgeous!”
We were strolling through the Art Gallery of Ontario at the time, so you might be forgiven for assuming she was referring to a painting or sculpture or some other piece of avant-garde art. Instead, Akemi bypassed the display and went straight to the couch in the middle of the room, taking a seat and running her hand along the backrest. “This would be perfect for the apartment!”
Yes, with about six weeks to go before we take possession of our new place, she is in full interior design mode.
But, on this day, the focus was on the AGO’s most popular exhibit in recent memory, one featuring the work of Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama. The event, running March 3rd to May 27, 2018 is so popular that advance booking is required and the few remaining available tickets are snapped up daily within an hour of opening.
I’d purchased our tickets online about a month ago for the very precise 2:15 p.m. showing. As advised, we arrived early (in retrospect, maybe a little too early), walked the other exhibits and then dutifully lined up at precisely 2:00 p.m. Once 2:15 rolled around, we were permitted entry, 5-6 at a time, and instructed to take the elevator up to the exhibit where we would only be permitted a set amount of time at each station.
Once off the elevator, we were directed to the first room where we were greeted by a couple of pieces…
…some biographical information on the artist and her art (the focus in these instances was on phallic expression), and a lineup. Not really knowing what was up, we joined the queue and struck up a conversation with the two women in front of us who talked about their love of theater, museums, and then, some twenty minutes later, their hatred for line-cutters when, after snaking our way around the first exhibit – an enclosed polka-dot structure – we discovered a second, much shorter line that people were simply joining straight in from the entrance. When one of the women complained, she was informed that there was a limit of only three visitors per polka-dot structure and this second (unmarked) line was for singles. Good to know.
Akemi and I were paired with one such single and instructed to step up onto a ramp as a second gallery employee carefully timed the preceding visit with a stopwatch. Once thirty seconds was up, the door to the structure was opened, they were ushered out and we were ushered in.
I already had my phone out and ready to take video as I knew our time was short…
A member of the AGO staff accompanied us, presumably to ensure we did not attempt to traipse through the field of phalluses.
A knock at the door signaled our time was up. We were ushered out and another trio was ushered in. We moved on…
And checked out some of the wall-mounted artwork.
I could tell Akemi was thinking: “How would this look in the new living room?”
We rounded a corner to discover – another line-up for entrance to another structure. Having learned our lesson, we opted for the much shorter singles line, drawing a temporary close to our eight year relationship for the sake of art…and not having to wait as long. As it turned out, there were a lot of threesomes in that other lines. By the time my turn came up, I ended up being paired with the couple who I would have been behind had I just chosen the longer line.
This one was my favorite.
Thirty seconds later, I was out the door and joining Akemi in a quick dash to the next line-up.
No singles line this time so the wait was significantly longer. Finally, we were permitted entry into the big pink polka-dotted ball where we discovered…
More big pink polka-dotted balls!
From there, we stepped directly into the next queue. As it inched along, Akemi and I each took a turn to check out a tiny station offering a outside-looking-in peek at…
Eventually, once we reached the front of the queue, we were directed to a much larger viewing station where we were instructed to peek in from opposite sides…for thirty seconds.
“Thanks for coming,”said the AGO representative with the stopwatch once the thirty seconds had elapsed. It sounded more like a threat than an expression of gratitude, punctuated as it was by a foreboding step in our direction as if to warn against lingering.
From there, it was on to the next wait station. Along the way, we passed –
A tentacle garden and …
This time, we lucked out. The singles line was a comparatively shorter wait and in no time at all (let’s say under 10 minutes) we were into the next station –
And immediately out and on our way.
We strolled past a display that would have seemed perfectly at home on one of the alien worlds the crew of The Raza might have visited in Dark Matter’s fourth season –
There was a sixth and final queue for the sixth and final station which, for some reason, didn’t allow photography. Spoiler alert: pumpkins!
Then, it was on to the final interactive exhibit, a once stark room (at the start of the exhibition) that encouraged visitors to adorn the surroundings with the multi-colored stickers they were handing out on our way in…
And that was that.
Initial line-up = 2:00 p.m.
Exit = 4:15 p.m.
30 seconds x 6 stations = 3 minutes
Approximate time spent traveling between stations, appreciating various paintings and displays = 12 minutes
TOTAL TIME SPENT APPRECIATING ART: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME SPENT WAITING TO APPRECIATE ART: 120 minutes
Turns out it’s true. You DO have to suffer for art.