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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Huge inflatable dolls and balloon sculptures – a must-see exhibition at MIF23


By Steve Cooke

While Factory International’s Aviva Studios does not officially open to the public until October, MIF23’s exhibition of Kusama's artworks give us the first opportunity to explore the new arts and culture space. Kusama’s inflatable dolls and balloon sculptures have taken over the vast warehouse space of the building, taking us on an exhilarating journey through psychedelic creations, most of which seen for the first time in the UK.

I found it an exhilarating visual experience and highly recommend it to not only art lovers but anyone seeking something new.

Yayoi Kusama is one of the world's most loved artists, celebrated and loved for her surreal paintings, sculptures, immersive environments, and spectacular inflatable artworks.

Exhibiting at Aviva Studios, the new home of Factory International, Yayoi Kusama's 'You, Me and the Balloons' forms the centrepiece of Manchester International Festival which is taking over the city from until July 16. The festival will also see new work from artists including Ryan Gander, Maxine Peake, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Tino Sehgal and Juan Mata, and music from John Grant, Angélique Kidjo, and Alison Goldfrapp.

Conceived especially for the soaring spaces of Manchester International Festival's new home, 'You, Me and the Balloons' is Kusama's largest immersive environment to date and celebrates three decades of her inflatable artworks. Journeying through the exh0ibition, we see psychedelic creations - many over 10m tall - including giant dolls, spectacular tendrilled landscapes and a vast constellation of polka-dot spheres.

The new exhibition is a major moment for the North West's art and culture scene, even surpassing in scale Kusama's recent show 'Infinity Mirror Rooms' at Tate Modern.

Drawing on several decades of work as an artist and encompassing more than 30 years of inflatable artworks, this exhibition looks back to her childhood, when she first started experiencing auditory hallucinations and began creating polka-dot images.

Standard Tickets for 'You, Me and the Balloons' can be purchased via the Manchester International Festival website for £15, but there are also options for £10 or less. A maximum of 6 tickets per person applies for all bookings.

Yayoi Kusama's 'You, Me and the Balloons' at Aviva Studios runs until Monday, August 28.

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