In May 1961, Kusama showed a group of her white Infinity Net paintings in a solo exhibition at the Stephen Radich Gallery in New York. This exhibition featured the largest painting she had made to date, a massive canvas measuring almost ten metres wide. The work was taller than the gallery’s walls, and she had to trim a section off the bottom to enable the work to fit in the show.
After the exhibition this large canvas was cut down into smaller canvases and these gradually dispersed to various collections. However, Kusama kept the off-cut and used it in a performance in upstate New York that was filmed for Kusama’s Self-Obliteration. In the film, Kusama is seen unrolling the offcut on a country lane, creating an apparently endless strip of white against the brown earth.
In 1970 Kusama was photographed with the offcut on a New York rooftop. In the image she poses in jeans and a t-shirt with a stars and stripes motif, her name spelled out on the ground behind her.
When she returned to Japan Kusama took the offcut with her, and it has remained in her former apartment in Tokyo. This exhibition marks the first time it has been displayed to the public, over fifty years since it was first made.