Yoko Ono

yes yoko ono in minneapolis

Written by Jason Koffman, 2001

I attended Yoko's opening on Friday at the Walker, but the real excitement wasn't until Saturday's performance. The opening was sold-out and a little too packed with people, mostly suburbanite yuppies, to enjoy any of the exhibition. I'll have to return on a slow weekday to really jump in.

As I entered the exhibit, performance artist Lisa D'Amour was performing Painting To Shake Hands, which requires two people to shake hands through a hole in a blank canvas. I was disappointed in the fact that most of the formerly "interactive" pieces could not be touched. This included the Yes ladder piece (Ceiling Painting), the white chessboards at a long table (Play It By Trust), Sky Machine and most others. The Water Piece (Painting To Be Watered) could be watered though! During the Q&A on Saturday, Yoko explained that this was a retrospective exhibit and treated differently than a new piece (my words, not hers). I still have trouble understanding what damage to the piece would have occurred if I climbed that ladder. Maybe some of the pieces will become active as the exhibit progresses. On Saturday I found 2 chessboards and chairs (Play It By Trust) had been set up in the lobby, so that they could be played.

Yoko was at the opening, but I did not see her. No photos or recording were allowed at Saturday's performance.

Saturday afternoon's performance was something special. It included a moderator, Kristine Stiles (artist and Associate Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University), who was also included (or dragged into!) several of Yoko's performances. First Yoko offered, "What is Art?", which was realized with her humorous explanations of 5 different white teapots (art?) displayed on a table on the stage. Next came Kristine who read quotes from several of Yoko's instruction pieces. Yoko first explained that today's talk was unscripted. Yoko looked quite surprised and put on-the-spot by Kristine's choice of reading Yoko's instructions, so Yoko continued to change direction many times throughout the afternoon.

Yoko looked great! She is thin with some muscle tone, has relatively short, spiky hair, wore some low-cut shades and her trademark black t-shirt & black pants combo. Kristine's outfit made her appear "stuffy". But all that changed when Yoko directed her to join in her Bag Piece. Sam Koppelman (from Sean Lennon's IMA band) entered, and accompanied on bongos for the rest of the afternoon. Watching the two women move around in the bag, remove articles of clothing (in the bag), whisper to each other and giggle (a lot), took them, and us, to a very comfortable, gee-this-is-fun type of place. Very therapeutic!

There was also a Yoko/vocal-Sam/bongos piece performed live over a Yoko recording (not sure what) with the new Yoko video piece (features John&Yoko march footage) projected on a large screen behind them. This performance is A Blueprint For The Sunrise, the music of which can be found in the accompanying CD to the Yes Yoko Ono book. Lots of Yoko wailing and dancing, even some smiles and giggles amongst the heaviness of the distorted John Lennon imagery seen in the video above. I believe that the video piece is on view in the gallery exhibit.

A Q&A followed with not much to report. Thankfully no Lennon/Beatle questions; YES Minneapolis! Mostly single sentence responses from Yoko that did not shed much. Yoko was quite humorous though and in VERY good spirits. This was a pleasure to see.





Yes yoko ono

© Sari Gurney
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