The Spotted Seppuku: Commodifying Suicide with Yayoi Kusama

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Yayoi Kusama, the self-proclaimed ‘international avant-garde artist’ has enjoyed global commercial success in the most recent decades of her lengthy career. In this article, I address this by taking her body of work as whole, with the message of self-destruction, sifted through the branding of ‘obliteration’ and ‘accumulation’ which I term the ‘Kusama-Seppuku’. Drawing on analyses of Kusama’s visual and literary work alongside Pierre Klossowski, Georges Bataille and Friedrich Nietzsche and the simulacra that permeate each, I argue that Kusama has created a body of work that expresses a desire to disengage from any illusion of cohesive identity through modes of obsessive, repetitious acts, processes and accumulations designed to allow an experience of a return ‘to the infinite universe’ (Yayoi Kusama (quoted by Alma Reyes), ‘Art of Eternity at the Yayoi Kusama Museum, Tokyo’ in Taiken Japan (Explore Japan) online publication, 21 Oct 2017: Each iteration of her work expresses a gesture that constitutes a part of the Kusama-Seppuku, a lifelong performance of suicide, exhaustively commodified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-160
Number of pages16
JournalThird Text
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


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