“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…

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

…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…

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

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…

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

And checked out some of the wall-mounted artwork.

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

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.

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

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.

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

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…

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

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…

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

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 –

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

A tentacle garden and …

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

Silver phalluses.

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 –

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

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…

April 14, 2018: Suffering For Art!

And that was that.

The breakdown:

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



Turns out it’s true.  You DO have to suffer for art.

20 thoughts on “April 14, 2018: Suffering for Art!

  1. Oh yeah, we saw that in Paris a few years back, that was pretty cool, some stations are really immersive and fun. And we didn’t even wait! ^^ 😛

  2. Most of that looks as if would be best appreciated in person. I like her work. The lines and waiting would annoy me beyond reason. I have become used to Burning Man, with all the interactive art one could want, all day, all nght. Heck, even I have an interactive gallery for one week, and gift art to participants. Upward of five hundred pieces, and some of it quite good.

    I like museums, but galleries can be a bit pretentious. Support local artists, but don’t get sucked into the “real art” cycle. It’s viscious.

    Right now the Smithsonian has No Spectators, the Art of Burning Man installed at the Renwick Gallery in DC. Free admission. I am amused art which I, and so many others, have touched is on display in a real museum. Ha. We’re everywhere. Too bad I can’t afford a trip back east just now.

  3. That was really interesting. It’s not something I would go to, but I did enjoy watching the videos. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Seems more like an ordeal than a pleasant cultural experience. Perhaps it’s just as well it wasn’t on yet when I was up there.

    In the room with the mirrors and yellow lights, I’d be tempted to spin around really fast so it would look like I was in hyperspace. Then I would fall out the door from dizziness after the 30s and claim it was performance art.

  5. I am going to the Monet exhibition at the National Gallery in London next Wednesday…we have booked a time slot so I hope once we have our tickets no waiting…just appreciating…

  6. With all of the infinty mirrors and wild colors (not to mention the phalluses), it gave me the impression of a knikier version of Spencer Gifts. Did they have black lights in the pumpkin room?

  7. That’s pretty far out dude! Very interesting! Thank you for taking pictures and sharing. Hope you made it out without a sticker stuck to your butt.

  8. sounds like the actual play time of a football game. that is from the snap of ball until the end of the play, and the intervening time between snaps plus commercial time outs.

  9. I think your favorite is my favorite too. Some of the others give me a headache. LOL Not sure I’d be willing to suffer that long for that art.

  10. Not exactly my type of art, but how is anyone supposed to really appreciate it when it’s go in, take a quick spin around, and get out?

  11. I would love to do it, but not at 15 secs. That is insane. I hope everyone bashes them until they give people time to actually APPRECIATE the exhibits. Even 5 mins seems stupid, but surely at least 2. Wow.

  12. Wow! Thanks Joe, for the guided tour.
    I do like to explore the way out stuff… some of this is quite amazing and some just bizarre and some a little bit nah…
    I wonder if the exhibition comes here (UK) if I would enter or walk on by…

  13. It was interesting but kind of far out for me. I enjoy seeing the pictures but I’d rather spend my time on a good meal or a movie/book. Thanks for waiting through those lines so I could see it though! 😉

    Six weeks, huh? Moving is a lot of trouble but it will be worth it! Are you still looking for a condo in Montreal too? It might be a good investment and a nice little vacation place.

  14. I’ve never heard of such strict timing on an exhibit – in San Fran they just let you pile in until no one can see anything. But you spent most of your 30 secs filming, so we can see what you saw, which we much appreciate!

  15. Thank you so much for posting all the interesting photos and video. Just like being there without the cost of a ticket and line wait time. I think real ART is pretty much wasted on me but I did like the “firefly” room. Give me sparkling lights any day!! I also thought the “sticker” room was cool. Reminds me of my cassette tape case I used to cover with stickers.

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