May 20, 2015. New Post goes Up Every Wednesday
YOKO ONO: ONE WOMAN SHOW, 1960- 1971 at THE MUSEUM of MODERN ART
“Let’s get this out of the way right now: “Yoko Ono, One Woman Show: 1960-71” is a worthwhile, intriguing exhibition that successfully demonstrates the artist’s brand of often-humorous Conceptualism, and does so without trading in spectacle or celebrity-worship.
I entered the MoMA show with an open mind and left with a newfound appreciation. Not everything works — there’s maybe too much printed matter and ephemera on view, and plenty of grainy photographic documentation of performances that looked like they might have been interesting, through the murk — but overall the impression one gets of Ono at this stage in her career is as a playful pioneer, simultaneously earnest and surprisingly willing to laugh at herself.
“One Woman Show” (through September 7) moves chronologically, from Ono’s early ’60s days at 112 Chambers Street in New York, where she co-ran a loft space with experimental musician La Monte Young.
The exhibition, as described on line by MoMA:
“During the first 11 years of her extensive career, Ono moved among New York, Tokyo, and London, serving a pioneering role in the international development of Conceptual art, experimental film, and performance art. Her earliest works were often based on instructions that Ono communicated to viewers in verbal or written form. Painting to Be Stepped On (1960/1961),[below] for example, invited viewers to tread upon a piece of canvas placed directly on the floor.”
“Though easily overlooked, the work radically questioned the division between art and the everyday by asking viewers to participate in its completion. At times poetic, humorous, sinister, and idealistic, Ono’s early text-based works anticipated the objects that she presented throughout the decade, includingGrapefruit (1964) [reproduced here], her influential book of instructions; Apple (1966), a solitary piece of fruit placed on a Plexiglas pedestal; and Half-A-Room (1967), an installation of bisected domestic objects.”
“The exhibition also explores Ono’s seminal performances and films, including Cut Piece (1964) and Film No. 4 (1966/1967). In Cut Piece, Ono confronted issues of gender, class, and cultural identity by asking viewers to cut away pieces of her clothing as she sat quietly on stage.At the end of the decade, Ono’s collaborations with John Lennon, including Bed-In (1969) and the WAR IS OVER! if you want it (1969–) campaign, boldly communicated her commitment to promoting world peace. Upon returning to New York in the early 1970s, Ono—like the flies purportedly released at MoMA—had infiltrated the public realm; her artwork appeared on billboards and in newspapers and she performed internationally with her Plastic Ono Band.”