Japanese artist Yoko Ono (1933 – not dead yet) has not only been a pioneer of conceptual art since the 1960s but is also infinitely famous for such accomplishments as marrying John Lennon and destroying The Beatles. Despite this, prior to last weekend, I had never actually seen an exhibition featuring her work. So it was with great fascination and excitement that I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo on the opening day of Yoko Ono: From My Window to feast on an eclectic collection spanning her lifetime.
I was not let down.
While there are many gems to be found, the first for me was a close-up video of a shit fly preening itself atop a human nipple. Some might complain that there were a few too many puby hairs encircling the areola, but that kind of coarse grittiness is an essential part of art that keeps it real.
Adjacent to the video was a case featuring film scripts by Ono. I particularly liked this bit from #3:
“Ask audience to cut the part of the image on the screen that they don’t like.
Every movie should come with this feature. Particularly ones that are shot over 12 years and have no discernible plot or points of interest other than the fact that they were shot over 12 years.
Another highlight was an interactive work entitled Bag Piece (1964) where exhibit-goers were allowed to express themselves by draping one of three large pieces of cloth over their bodies and standing on what looked to be an oversized mattress. It was interesting to see how long folks could go before being overcome by a feeling of ridiculousness and then sheepishly hanging the blanket back on the wall.
Ono proved not only an artist, but an entrepreneur as well in a piece entitled Mornings for Sale where she offered and sold out the mornings of September 13, 1985, March 18, 1987, February 3, 1987, March 3, 1990, and June 11, 1998. Absolutely ingenious.
A couple of nice background audio pieces were a looped recording of a finger tapping intersperced with some mild coughing (Coughing Piece, 1961/64) as well as the occasional exhibit-goer screaming into a microphone set up in the corner of one of the rooms.
But my favorite piece was without a doubt Transcript for Grapefruit (1963-4) which featured written instructions for making art and music etc. A few stand-out selections are as follows. In particular, I think Conversation Piece really cuts to the heart of Ono’s popularity.
- Line Piece
- Stone Piece
Find a stone that is your size or weight.
Crack it until it becomes fine powder.
(a) Dispose of it in a river; or
(b) Send small amount each to your friends.
Do not tell anybody what you did.
Do not explain about powder to friends you send.
- Conversation Piece
Bandage any part of your body.
If people ask about it, make a story and tell.
If people do not ask about it, draw their attention to it and tell.
If people forget about it, remind them of it and keep telling.
Do not talk about anything else.
- Smoke Piece
Smoke everything you can.
Including your pubic hair
All in all, I’m excited to give Yoko Ono: From My Window an A+. It runs from 11/8/2015 to 2/14/2016 and I highly recommend it to Yoko Ono lovers everywhere.
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