Friday, August 3, 2012
Appreciation for Yoko Ono
Ono was a sometime member of Fluxus, a loose association of Dada-inspired avant-garde artists that developed in the early 1960s. Fluxus founder George Maciunas, a friend of Ono's during the 1960s, admired her work and promoted it with enthusiasm. One of Ono's well known examples is when she took a fly as her alter ego and was inspired by this for her work. Maciunas invited Ono to join the Fluxus group, but she declined because she wanted to remain an independent artist. John Cage was one of the most important influences on Ono's performance art. It was her relationship to Ichiyanagi Toshi, who was a pupil of John Cage's legendary class of Experimental Composition at the New School, that would introduce her to the unconventional avant-garde, neo-Dadaism of John Cage and his protégés in New York City.
Almost immediately after John Cage finished teaching at the New School for Social Research in the summer of 1960, Ono was determined to rent a place to present her works along with the work of other New York avant-garde artists. She eventually found a cheap loft in downtown Manhattan at 112 Chambers Street that she used as a studio and living space. Composer La Monte Young urged Ono to let him organize concerts in the loft, and Ono agreed. Both artists began organizing a series of events in Ono's loft, and both Young and Ono claimed to have been the primary curator of these events, but Ono claims to have been eventually pushed into a subsidiary role by Young. The Chambers Street series hosted some of Ono's earliest conceptual artwork including Painting to Be Stepped On, which was a scrap of canvas on the floor that became a completed artwork upon the accrual of footprints. Ono suggested that a work of art no longer needed to be mounted on a wall, inaccessible, but an irregular piece of canvas to be completed by being stepped on by viewers.
Ono was an explorer of conceptual art and performance art. An example of her performance art is "Cut Piece" (this instance of performance art is also known as a "happening"), first performed in 1964 at the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo. Cut Piece had one destructive verb as its instruction: "Cut." Ono executed the performance in Tokyo by walking on stage and casually kneeling on the floor in a draped garment. Audience members were requested to come on stage and begin cutting until she was naked. Ono performed this piece again in London and other venues, garnering drastically different attention depending on the audience. In Japan, the audience was typically shy and cautious, while London participators were a bit more zealous.
An example of her conceptual art includes her book of instructions called Grapefruit. First published in 1964, the book includes surreal, Zen-like instructions that are to be completed in the mind of the reader, for example: "Hide and seek Piece: Hide until everybody goes home. Hide until everybody forgets about you. Hide until everybody dies." An example of Heuristic art, Grapefruit was published several times, most widely distributed by Simon and Schuster in 1971, and reprinted by them again in 2000. Many of the scenarios in the book would be enacted as performance pieces throughout Ono's career and have formed the basis for her art exhibitions, including one highly publicized show at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York, that was nearly closed when besieged by excited Beatle fans who broke several of the art pieces and flooded the toilets.
Ono was also an experimental filmmaker who made sixteen films between 1964 and 1972, and gained particular renown for a 1966 Fluxus film called simply No. 4, but often referred to as "Bottoms." The film consists of a series of close-ups of human buttocks as the subject walks on a treadmill. The screen is divided into four almost equal sections by the elements of the gluteal cleft and the horizontal gluteal crease. The soundtrack consists of interviews with those who are being filmed as well as those considering joining the project. In 1996, the watch manufacturing company Swatch produced a limited edition watch that commemorates this film. (Ono also acted in an obscure exploitation film in 1965, Satan's Bed.)
John Lennon once described her as "the world's most famous unknown artist: everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does." Her circle of friends in the New York art world has included Kate Millett, Nam June Paik, Dan Richter, Jonas Mekas, Merce Cunningham, Judith Malina, Erica Abeel, Fred DeAsis, Peggy Guggenheim, Betty Rollin, Shusaku Arakawa, Adrian Morris, Stefan Wolpe, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol, as well as Maciunas and Young.
In 2001, YES YOKO ONO, a forty-year retrospective of Ono's work, received the prestigious International Association of Art Critics USA Award for Best Museum Show Originating in New York City, considered one of the highest accolades in the museum profession. In 2002 Ono was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for work in assorted media. In 2005 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Japan Society of New York.
Ono received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Liverpool University in 2001. In 2002, she was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Bard College.
In 2008, she showed a large retrospective exhibition, Between The Sky And My Head, at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany, and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK.
In 2009, she showed a selection of new and old work as part of her show "Anton's Memory" in Venice, Italy. She also received a Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement from the Venice Biennale in 2009.
Wish Tree, her installation in the Sculpture Garden – Museum of Modern Art, New York (since July 2010), has become very popular with contributions from all over the world.
In 2012, Ono was the winner of the 2012 Oskar Kokoschka Prize, Austria's highest award for applied contemporary art. (excerpts from Wikipedia)
I have personally admired this bravely artistic woman for decades. She fearlessly pursues her artistic passions and makes stunning statements with her conceptual and her participatory art projects..................I Love You, Yoko Ono.....................Belinda Subraman
Be a part of Yoko's Smiles film: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/jun/19/be-part-yoko-ono-smilesfilm-artwork
And so this empty space is my tribute in silence to you, Yoko. ------------------------