Known for her iconic pumpkins and polka dots, Yayoi Kusama is one of the most important and influential Asian contemporary artists. Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now, the artist’s largest retrospective in Asia outside Japan, is M+’s first Special Exhibition and celebrates the museum’s first anniversary.
As the airline partner of the Special Exhibition, Cathay Pacific delivered 32 of the exhibition’s works, which came in different weight and dimensions. The retrospective showcases more than 200 works from Kusama’s seven-decade career, including paintings, installations, sculptures, drawings, collages, moving images, and archival materials as well as three new commissions.
With an artist with such a diversity of materials and media, this shipment meant dealing with objects of equal variety with irregular shapes. The only common feature among the works was their cultural value and irreplaceability.
Shuichi Ueba, Regional Head of Cargo, Japan and Korea, explains that while the overall consignment was discussed and planned way ahead of time, what was contained in the four shipments of cargo to be handled by the Cathay Pacific Japan Cargo team was very much a ‘last-minute’ matter.
Other challenges included processing tall, thin pieces that cannot be laid flat into Unit Load Devices (ULDs), so our cargo team had to use packing materials to hold the pieces upright and in place for loading, transport, and unloading. Additionally, as the artworks were precious, the Cathay Pacific Cargo team at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT) placed the artworks next to the side doors of the four freighter planes. ‘This meant that they could be unloaded first on arrival at Hong Kong for priority handling,’ says Ueba.
The artworks were also photographed as they were packed and loaded in Narita. The photographs were sent with the onboard ULD positions to the M+ team and its service provider in Hong Kong before departure. This information enabled the Cathay Pacific Cargo team in Hong Kong to prepare the necessary resources for unloading and transferring the artworks to the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal for speedy collection by truck.
Veronica Castillo, Deputy Director, Collection and Exhibition at M+ says, ‘M+ is pleased to work with Cathay Pacific. Its commitment to safely transporting Kusama’s works to M+ is certainly one of the key contributions to the success of this exhibition.’
Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now is on display at M+ until 14 May 2023. For more information about the show, click here.
Photo credits: Courtesy of M+