Yoko Ono

cut piece in paris 2003


By Kevin Concannon, September 16th 2003

Last night, I saw Yoko Ono's Cut Piece performance.

Large posters on the front of the building and in the lobby stated:

Following the political changes through the year after 9/11, I felt terribly vulnerable-like the most delicate wind could bring me tears.

It was as though everything I believed in was rapidly melting away, while I continued walking still carrying my beliefs.

The front page of the papers and the TV news were feeding us what they wanted to - assaulting our senses. Men without faces were at work. Force and intimidation were in the air. People were silenced.

I always thought I wanted to live forever, that I was one person who was not scared of doing so. But would I want to live surrounded by this world as we know now?

Some people went to Palestine to act as human shields. That really touched me. If all of us stood to become human shields instead of machine gunning each other... My immediate thought was to join them. I almost did, and didn't.

Later, the world heard of the death of Rachel Corrie. She made her stand for all of us.

Cut Piece is my hope for World Peace.
Because today is a very special day for me. Like every day. And I'm determined to cherish every moment.

When I first performed this work, in 1964, I did it with some anger and turbulence in my heart. This time I do it with love for you, for me, and for the world.

Come and cut a piece of my clothing wherever you like the size of less than a postcard, and send it to the one you love.

I'll see you.
y.o. 8/1/'03

My body is the scar of my mind
y.o. '64

(The same text appeared on the handout given to audience members as they entered--in French and English.)

She began, speaking entirely in French, saying "Imagine the ocean, Imagine Love. Imagine peace. Peace for you and me and all the world. Never forget love. I love you." Then she held up the shears, smiled, and said "Let's go, then." (Allons-y!) (not necessarily complete translation--from jet-lagged memory)

She wore a layered black silk chiffon skirt (Chanel, I think) and a black blouse (Gucci, I believe). People were generally pretty polite, cutting pieces smaller than a postcard, as invited to do on the handout. Many people kissed her before or after cutting, and many spoke to her. She generally acknowledged them verbally (minimal) and with eye contact, but mostly remained still, blankly staring ahead, sitting upright on a short stool. The line formed right off, and trailed into the darkness from my front-row vantage point for the longest time. (It took more than an hour.) She was left in a brassiere (with one strap cut) and panties, the remains of her skirt draped over the stool beneath her.

One young man came up (a good way into things) and sheared off her skirt completely, taking nothing as he left. This was somewhat hostile it struck me. Not long after, a woman came up and snipped a bra strap, again taking nothing. One woman cut a piece of her own jacket, and gave it to Yoko. Soon, another woman came up and attached this donated scrap to Yoko's chest with what appeared to be a red band-aid. Jon Hendricks, Yoko's exhibitions manager, went up fairly soon after to cut and removed the band-aid. Another man brought his 2-year-old child up with him, eliciting a warm smile from Yoko. Sean Lennon and girlfriend Bijou Phillips were among the cutters, as was Jean-Jacques Lebel.

There were a few tense moments. One woman hacked rather brutally with the shears. Another almost violently ripped her piece--as did a man who followed. Early on, one woman cut Yoko's shoe, apparently an attempt at creativity, but Yoko was obviously not pleased and asked her not to do the shoe, but the damage was done. Some very tender moments as well: one young male-female couple went up together. She cut a piece, then presented it to him. (The "instruction" asked that you "send it to the one you love.") He then cut it in half. They each kept one half, then kissed before leaving the stage. Once she was own to her underwear, the line was gone, and Paul Jenkins (of Studio One) brought her a red kimono. She took her bows to a standing ovation and left the stage.

Really quite stunning.




Yoko Ono Paris 2003
© John Schults / Reuters

© Sari Gurney
Biography Interviews From Yoko Bibliography Discography Art and exhibitions Photos and stories Links Search Editor Home