Yoko Ono

a grapefruit in the world of park


Arias and Objects: Barbara Haskell & John G. Hanhardt

"Ono's first music performance took place at the Village Gate, New York in 1961. In addition to A Grapefruit In The World Of Park, she included several compositions whose sounds were those that unintentionally occurred in the process of executing matter-of-fact tasks. As by-products of another activity -"by-sound" or "insound", as Ono dubbed them - these noises avoided self-conscious, subjective expression in favor of "real" sound."


Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?: Chrissie Iles

"The subject of motherhood and loss appears in one of Ono's early works: A Grapefruit in the World of Park (1961). A study of the surreal script of the piece reveals a dialogue which intertwines snippets of everyday conversation between a mother and her young child, a daughter named Betsy, having a picnic in the park (perhaps Central Park) eating clams, grapefruit and lollypops, with an almost delirious dialogue about the surroundings, and a dead child. The conversation between the mother and child is about normal parental caretaking things: "Why don't you put on your sweater/I'm not hot Mommy can I have something to drink/They're all gone honey/Now put on your jacket it's getting chilly...". At one point of them recites the Pease Porridge Hot nursery rhyme. --

The symbolism of the grapefruit, which forms the title and subject of the piece, and appears repeatedly throughout it, is ambiguous. The fruit could represent a child, a womb, or motherhood. In a biographical poem published in 1966 listing important events in Ono's life: late adolescence: gave birth to a grapefruit... The script of Grapefruit in the World of Park was accompanied by atonal music, wild laughter and unclear words; a kind of aural expression of female "madness". Ono's focus on the voice and the pushing of its limits during the sixties in these pieces set her apart from the use of the musical instrument (usually the piano, cello or violon), by many Fluxus artists. Where her work touches on the musical instrument, it is obliquely, in her pieces involving water, for example, a material used in many Fluxus sound performances. Cage, Brecht, Palk, Shiomi, Tomas Schmit and others all introduced water as a means to create sound, and Ono included the sound of a toilet flushing in her concert Grapefruit in a World of Park (1961).


From the lyric accompaniment to A Grapefruit In The World Of Park by Yoko Ono (1961)

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WHERE IS THIS | THIS IS THE PARK | I CAN SMELL METAL IN THE AIR | NO ITS THE CLOVERS | ARE THEY BLEEDING | NO ITS THE SUNSET | IS THIS THE ROOM | NO ITS THE SUNSET | WOULD YOU LIKE TO SPEAK TO THE DEAD | OH NO I I ONLY CAME HERE TO PEEL GRAPEFRUIT | IS IT TOO COLD | ITS TOO WARM | THE SKYS TOO HIGH | PEOPLE TURNING UP THEIR STOMACHS | CONTENTEDLY TO THE SKY | YOUR VOICE SOUNDS UNUSUALLY SMALL | IN THE AFTERNOON AIR | YOUR MINDS FLY AWAY BETWEEN THE CLOUDS | AND THE DROPPING DEW ON YOUR CHEEKS | IS LIKE THE KISSES OF YOUR LOVERS | DRINK PEPSI COLA | YOU'LL LIKE IT | IT LIKES YOU | DON'T PEEL IT EVERYTHING | SEEMS SO RIGHT IN THE PARK | YES DOESN'T IT | EVEN THE GRAPEFRUIT | OH NO | NOT THE GRAPEFRUIT | YES EVEN THE GRAPEFRUIT | WHY DON'T YOU THROW IT AWAY | ITS WRINKLED | ITS WRINKLED

 

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A Grapefruit in the World of Park
Poster, Carnegie Recital Hall, 1961.
© Lenono Photo Archive

© Sari Gurney
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