Yoko Ono born February 18, 1933, is a Japanese multimedia artist, singer, and peace activist. She is the widow and second wife of The Beatles’ John Lennon and is also known for her work in avant-garde art, music, and film-making.
Play It By Trust
Medium: Sculptures, Lacqured enamel paint over bronze and magnesium
Size: 6.5 x30 x 20 in
Medium: Installations, Installation view: Hiroshima City Museum of Contempoarty Art exhibition “The Road of Hope,” 20011. Photo by Keiichi Moto
Painting to Hammer a Nail, 1961
Consisting of a hammer, a trough of nails and a white wood panel—entitled Painting to Hammer a Nail: “Visitors are invited to pound a nail into this painting.” By August 19, six weeks after the show opened, the artwork sat barely visible in the center of a maze of chewing- gum wrappers, business cards, fliers, plastic bags, receipts and assorted stray bits of paper that had been nailed on and around the work.
Bed-Ins for Peace (1969)
Just five days after their wedding, Yoko Ono and John Lennon posted up in their honeymoon hotel room in protest of the Vietnam War. They called the protest a “Bed-In”. The two of them sat in the bed for a week, speaking with visiting journalists and answering phone calls from various media groups. Though the “bed-in” was intended as a mere protest, critics have been known to refer to it as performance art.
Wish Tree (1996)
Yoko Ono introduced “Wish Tree,” a collaborative project between her and anyone else who chooses to participate. Participants simply write a wish on a piece of paper and tie that piece of paper to the wish tree. The exhibition has been featured in galleries all over the world, and since its original opening, Ono has collected over one million wishes.
Cut Piece 1965
Statement : Bitch Magazine
Yoko has suffered more than most people understand. Her father was often absent; she was 12 when she fled to the mountains of Japan with part of her family, escaping the bombings in Tokyo but learning about Hiroshima and Nagasaki; she attended college in the United States in the 1950s when the Japanese were vilified; her passionate art was ridiculed as too “expressionistic”; her daughter was kidnapped by her second husband; she was ostracized by the public as the “dragon lady” for putatively breaking up the Beatles; she struggled with Lennon on drugs; she and Lennon were threatened by the CIA with his deportation; she witnessed his murder, and so on.
The result: Yoko feels alone and sometimes trusts others to “handle” her and her art for better or worse. Nonetheless, Yoko inspires me. She is a brilliant, poetic, tough role model who is forthright with herself and brings that honesty to
—Kristine Stiles, professor of art and art history, Duke University
One night, I was lying down on the sofa in the studio, trying to catch a catnap. I suddenly noticed that somebody quietly covered me with a khaki army surplus coat. That was exactly what John did when we were going through a long recording session one night. The coat was that coat, except that this one was a bit new and a bit hard on my skin. I looked up, and it was Sean who was doing exactly what John did. It was really a weird moment for me. For me to say John was probably there, is so predictable. But I really wondered. – Yoko
Yoko Ono did a performance called “Cut Piece” in 1965. In this piece, Ono sat on a stage wearing a black dress with a pair of scissors and invited viewers to participate by cutting her dress. As seen in the YouTube video, at the beginning of her piece people are very hesitant to cut her clothing, but as Ono’s performance goes on people become more daring. Near the end of her performance, participants cut more and more fabric of her dress, until it is left in tatters. One of the final male participants cuts her bra straps, almost revealing Ono’s breasts. Throughout most of the performance Ono sat still while people cut her dress, but near the end she began to move more, and then had to hold her bra up after the straps were cut, so that her breasts would not be revealed.
Gender is addressed directly in this piece because Ono is becoming a sexual object. She does not talk or move much throughout “Cut Piece,” causing her to become an object rather than a subject with a say about what is being done to her. “Cut Piece” is showing Ono as a female sexual object rather than subject. Ono does not say anything throughout the piece, but through her facial expressions near the end of the YouTube clip, it is evident that she became uncomfortable with how sexually aggressive people have become with her body and her clothing.
I was very intrigued by this piece of art. When I began watching the video I was not sure what to expect from the audience when they were encouraged to go up and cut part of Ono’s dress off. I thought most people would be very shy and not cut much of her dress off, which is what happened in the beginning. As the performance progressed, people became more and more sexually aggressive, particularly men. It escalated until finally her dress was in shreds, her bra was cut open, and she was mostly exposed. This is not what I had expected. I was appalled that people would be so sexually aggressive as to cut her bra straps. Sources say that one man even said “Come on, make a piece for Playboy, Richard” (Chladil). I could not believe how sexually aggressive people became. Throughout the whole piece Ono did her best to sit there without any motion or emotion. I was shocked to see how well she responded to a man cutting her bra strap, because I thought that went farther than what the original intent of “Cut Piece” was. Overall I was stunned to see how people could so easily make Ono into a sexual object. I feel that “Cut Piece” is an important piece of art because it exposes the sexual aggression in society, especially towards women.