Yoko Ono

grapefruit as an idea

Joan E. Stoltman, M.S. Pratt Institute

Excerpts from Chapter One of "Engage, Perform, Act: How Contemporary Artists Use the Book as Form and the Book as Idea", 2008

"Grapefruit's readers are intrinsic to the realization of the artworks; since they are inestimable, the book's potential is inestimable.

Each instruction is labeled with the date Ono thought of the work. This signifies a starting point for each piece, a moment at which the art work entered the world. … The activity will not end as long as the book exists somewhere. The works themselves happen beyond the book. Conceivably, even when the book is gone, the art would exist mentally until the last reader-artist of the last copy died.

The idea art spawned by the book obviously possesses very different qualities than the corporeal, arranged physicality of the book. The codex provides structure for the instructions to exist within. As such, the book is not only the "temporal qualities and spatial characteristics" of these instructions, but also the very system that assimilates them into the lives and shelves of people the world throughout.

Though the book is a relevant component of the artwork, the idea art is only initially dependent on its physicality. Once an idea artwork has been visualized, it can exist perpetually, immeasurably, and beyond the book. …The book is an artifact.

Her book belongs to a trend among many book artists' to oppose the art establishment in the same way that performance art and other non-traditional mediums of the twentieth century act: by seeking to expand the system of art. This broadening includes questioning what it means to experience art, what art should look like, who should make art, what function art should serve, who should view art, etc., in other words, challenging the premises and foundations of the art world. In one small book, Ono plays within all of these paradigms, exposing the limitations of the art world.

It is an active artists' book, meant to be carried around the world, read in random order, experienced over a lifetime, perhaps repeatedly; in groups, or perhaps alone. The point of Grapefruit is not how you do it; it is that you do it."

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Grapefruit by Yoko Ono

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