An elegant, wealthy woman adorned in a Yayoi Kusama body suit, high-heels and art-deco hooped earrings, begins to appear slightly more sinister in light of the figure's contorted hands, hospital wrist tag and institutional surroundings. Such elements, as well as the painting’s title that makes reference to the torture chamber in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (where internees were subjected to their own worst nightmares or phobias) recall the acclaimed Japanese artist’s own history, who in 1977 famously checked herself into a psychiatric institute, where she has lived and worked ever since. The salamander perched on the woman’s knee can be identified by its recognisable black and yellow markings as a fire salamander, a subspecies commonly referenced in cultural contexts due to their supposed power of exhaling and extinguishing flames.
Room 101 bears similarities to Epp’s 2021 artwork Mondrian Dress, which featured a kindred woman of luxury and leisure wearing a garment inspired by another art-historical great. A comment perhaps on the continued conflation of fine art and high fashion, and instances such as Louis Vuitton and Kusama's recent creative collaborations.