The retrospective exhibition of Yoko Ono, ‘War is Over!’ is on now at the MCA until the 23rd of Feb, which means there is now only this week to go! For anyone in Sydney if you havnt had a chance to get there, I would recommend getting down to see the show before Sunday the 23rd.
The video ‘Cut Piece’ in the background of this image, and ‘Play it by Trust’ in the foreground. ‘Cut Piece’ is considered one of Yoko Ono’s most significant artworks today, first performed in 1964, Tokyo, Japan. The audience members are invited to cut pieces of her clothing away with a pair of scissors, as she sits impassively upon the stage. In this exhibition the film documentaries of two of the performances are shown, one in 1965 at Carnegie Recital Hall and the second, in Paris, age of 70, in 2003. “The relationship between the younger and older woman, as well as questions of venerability, dignity and audience response are touched in these films”. ‘Play it by Trust’, first installed in 1966 at Indica Gallery, London, has been repeatedly made over several decades. Customised boards and chess pieces are all white, once the game commences the pieces intermingle and it becomes difficult to know who controls which piece, the idea of competition founders. Ono says, “this leads to a shared understanding of (our) mutual concerns and a new relationship based on empathy rather than opposition. Peace is then attained on a small scale”.
‘Windows’, 2009/2013, Another participatory work which is a great thing about her work, everyone can get involved. Here writing a letter to add to a beautiful original travel suitcases.
‘My Mommy is Beautiful‘ 2004/2013, Participatory artwork, writing a note to one’s mother. “Ono has long been interested in the complexity of gender and the feminine through her art…a participatory artwork which takes the form of a wall upon which audience members are invited to pin or tape private messages of love, hope, forgiveness and reconciliation to their mothers…elicits a spectrum of responses from love and thanks, to anger and sadness.”
A selection of mothers in front of the art work.
‘Imagine Map Piece’ 1966/2013, Participatory artwork, where the viewer is invited to stamp ‘peace’ in differing languages on maps of the world.
‘Mend Peace’ 1966/2013, Participatory artwork, an invitation to select broken ceramic pieces and put them back together again in a morphemic new form.
Displayed on shelves, the public’s mended pieces of ceramics ware, complete with string and glue.
‘Helmets – Pieces of Sky‘ 2001/2013 Participatory artwork, “Ono witnessed the physical and economic devastation of Japan as a young girl living through World War 11…. she has written about her war time experiences, describing the hours that she and her brother spent watching the sky and clouds drift past….Images of the wide blue sky with drifting clouds have become a recurring theme within Ono’s art works ever since”. In ‘Helmets’ World War military helmets hang upside down from the ceiling, filled with pieces of blue sky jigsaw puzzle. Gallery visitors are invited to take one piece of sky away with them “in the hope that, one day in the future, they will return with their pieces to build a beautiful new sky together”.
‘touch me 111’ 2008, Participatory artwork, “Ono has often addressed the quiet undercurrent of violence done to women and their bodies through her art”. This theme is expanded in this work, with individual parts of women’s bodies, in silicone, are placed in small wooden boxes upon a platform. A bowl of water is at one end, with the instructions for the viewer to wet their fingers and gently ‘touch’ the body. “The depressions and gouges left by the gallery visitors when this work was first shown in New York caused Ono’s gallery to recommend taking it away from view. Ono declined, leaving the damaged body on display as a reminder of the violent treatment that so many women endure in their daily lives'”
‘Doors and Sky Puddles’ 2011, this work was exhibited at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, with multiple upright doors that appear to float in the gallery space. The wooden doors are old and peeling, flecked with the passage of time. If you look closely at the doors surface, Ono has written tiny messages as well as writing haiku poetry directly on the gallery wall using Japanese calligraphic ink. Clouds and sky are inverted in the sky puddles that sit upon the floor. Ono wroye in 1968, “Doors are just a figment of our imagination’, suggesting that barriers exist in our mind, as much as reality, and that we need strength and courage to pass through them.”
‘We’re All Water’ 2006/2013,
‘Balance Piece’ 1998, “Much of Yoko Ono’s art is affirmative, reflecting the desire to wish for a better, more peaceful world. In some works, however, there is a equally an undercurrent of violence – for in keeping with Buddhist principles of universal balances, harmony cannot be expressed without its opposite state”. In ‘Balance Piece’ an ordinary kitchen is “literally suspended in a precarious balance, with a large magnet visible on the other side of the wall.” (all quotes are from the MCA gallery catalogue)
And the cafe after for sustenance, view from window! Not the harbour but an ocean liner!