Yoko Ono

cut piece in paris 2003


Theatre Le Ranelagh, Paris: September 15th 2003

Reuters (September 16th 2003): "John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono watched on as dozens of strangers cut her clothes off piece by piece in a Paris theatre on Monday, leaving the artist on stage wearing nothing but her underwear. The 70-year old Ono, who accompanied her Beatle husband in numerous controversial anti-war campaigns including the "Bed-In for Peace" against the Vietnam War, first performed her "Cut Piece" show in 1964 in Japan as a protest for peace. At the end of the show then, she stood naked on stage. Almost 40 years on, the slender artist again asked her audience to cut strips off her tight black top and long layered skirt, to send the cut-out pieces to a person they love. "Never forget love," Ono said as she sat down on a stool on the stage of Paris' wood-panelled Ranelagh theatre.

Whispering to each other in low voices, art-lovers from all ages advanced towards the stage, with the artist's son Sean Lennon being the first one to cut a hole into her sleeve. "It was nerve-wracking," Lennon said after the performance. "She is really brave to do this again. It was very moving and very intense." Ono looked straight ahead and barely moved as a man dressed in a suit cut a piece off her skirt to reveal a large part of her thigh and a young woman cut through the strap of her bra.

"I was a little bit scared," Ono told Reuters after the show. "But I wasn't that scared because I tried to do it with love. And I think there is a lot of love out there," said Ono, whose face barely shows any wrinkles. "I am older. But I felt that I was doing it for world peace." "(--) I think I came closer to people here (than in 1964)," Ono said. "I think we were all together and I think we can keep on doing things, and I hope that we will achieve world peace."

Yoko Ono to Reuters: "In the 1960s I did it out of anger. But now, I'm doing it for love, and that makes a big difference," she said, but added that she would not do the show again."

The Guardian (September 16th 2003): "In the end no-one could bring themselves to snip her knickers off. Yoko Ono's commitment to nudity in the name of peace was replaced by a modest display of matching underwear.

Almost 40 years after she first performed Cut Piece in Tokyo, the 70- year-old artist was moved to recreate her striptease performance in protest at the political climate following the September 11 attacks. For an hour and twenty minutes last night, the audience at a small Parisian theatre had the chance to cut away pieces of Ono's outfit to mark their solidarity with her hopes for world peace. But the spirit of the 1960s was painfully absent, and the occasion was marked by a mood of timid politeness. Around 200 people queued up to chop away at her t-shirt and expensive-looking black silk skirt. One by one they climbed on to the stage, picked up the scissors and removed a snippet of material. Leaflets explaining the procedure advised the audience to cut away pieces no larger than a postcard (and to "send the scrap of fabric to someone you love"). Because of the large number of protective ruffles on the skirt, the performance was prolonged.

At 7.25pm Ono adopted a long-suffering gaze as the first shirt fragment was removed. At 7.40 she was obliged to stop one enthusiastic audience member from chopping up her black suede shoes.

By 8.29 she remained sitting demurely on a wooden stool - her bra exposed and her skirt a little gnawed at the edges. Even her son, Sean Lennon, sitting in the front row, let out a discreet yawn.

A few minutes later a young man sliced through the waistband, leaving her in her underpants.

One piece of bra elastic was cut through and then the queue of people faded away, apparently too inhibited to continue. Ono retreated into the wings in a pink kimono.

Art historians often describe the 1964 occasion as a "violation" of Ono by the audience, who stripped her - "more like a rape than an art performance". Last night's performance was a very courteous violation."


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Yoko Ono Paris 2003
© John Schults / Reuters

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