Yoko Ono: multimedia artist and fervent activist for peace
John Lennon once said that Yoko Ono was “the world's most famous unknown artist. Everyone knows her name, but no one knows what she does.” Actually, Ono is an accomplished avant-garde artist, musician, filmmaker, and fervent peace activist.
Born in Tokyo in 1933, she travelled a lot and was exposed to different cultures and a more liberal Western lifestyle. After studying music and poetry in New York, she moved to London. She will be a member of Fluxus - a contemporary art movement inspired by neo-Dadaism and the avant-garde.
Most of her creations play on the interaction between the artist and the audience. Here are some of her works:
- Cut Piece (1964) is an innovative and feminist artistic performance. Motionless on stage with a pair of scissors, Yoko Ono invites the audience onto the stage to cut a piece of her clothes to take with them. The participant is therefore involved in exhibiting the female body. In the same way, he participates passively daily as an observer in transforming the naked female body into an object.
- Grapefruit (1964) A small book with guidelines for readers. The aim is to break down the boundaries between art and life and encourage others to participate in its radical reflection.
- Bed-In (1969): With Lennon, she pleads for pacifism and the end of the Vietnam War through protest. For seven days they answered questions from the press sitting in a bed under “Hair Peace” and “Bad Peace” signs.
- Wish Tree (1993) Visitors write their wishes and dreams on a piece of paper they hang on a living tree. This work is inspired by her childhood and her visits to Japanese temples. Ono encourages meditation on the meaning of life and hope, collaboration and communication through collective action.
All her life, she will fight for peace through her works and her permanent international campaign “Imagine Peace”: multiple projects to communicate her message of peace, such as the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland.
Photo #1: Yoko Ono
Photo #2: Yoko Ono performing Cut Piece , 1964, filmed by the Maysles brothers, at Carnegie Recital Hall, 21 March 1965. Photo: Galerie Lelong.
Photo #3: Cover of a reprint of Yoko Ono, Grapefruit, 1971 , published in 2000 by Simon and Schuster.
Photo #4: Yoko Ono, "Wearing-out machine", from Grapefruit , published in 1964.
Photo #5: Yoko Ono, "Painting For The Wind", 1961, from Grapefruit , published in 1964.
Photo #6: "Bed In: John Lennon and Yoko Ono in bed at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, 1969. Photo: Koch, Eric / Anefo - Dutch National Archives
Photo #7: Yoko Ono: Wish tree for Washington, DC. Photo: Wikipedia
Photo #8: John Lennon and Yoko. Photo: Lain MacMillan