I went to the ‘Yoko Ono: To The Light’ exhibition when I was at a loose (and poor) end today after a luncheon meet ended an hour or so early. From Lancaster Gate the little walk across Kensington Gardens was very pleasant, and I found The Serpentine with relative ease (not thanks to the labyrinthical trail of maps and signs, that are about as helpful as that stupid scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz).
As someone who thinks, predominantly, of Ono as John Lennon’s wife (I don’t think I am in the minority), I was interested to see her artworks - especially after some pretty scathing reviews. I find that a very interesting prospect; like seeing a film a friend has walked out of.
The exhibition was interesting. Using a variety of media, Ono tests the boundaries between “the artist and the viewer”, and the interaction between the viewer and the art in the gallery space. This may have been more effective had it not been exhibited in England. The extent of the interaction I witnessed was an old woman walking over a piece of fabric (which I don’t even know if she knew was there); to which a man said: “You are the first person I’ve seen treading on that fabric”. Presumably he was making reference to the title of the piece: “Fabric to be trodden on” (or something similar). I don’t know whether this was just some elderly chat-up line, instigated by her renegade actions, but it did make me aware of how totally un-interactive everyone was being. Maybe this was due to the fact that one isn’t allowed to interact in any tactile way with the works, as was confirmed by Michael Glover of The Independent.
The much talked-about pieces of performance art, “Cut Piece” (1964 and 2003) - which involved Ono sitting and audience members cutting her dress - were interesting. I, maybe wrongly, assume that the earlier ‘Cut Piece’ were not filmed in England as the concept of sexual domination seems only to be being normalised with the recent publication of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, let alone 1964 which was when the piece was performed.
The films showing were conceptually interesting and impressive for their time. With subjects varying from kissing, to ‘Bottoms’ and nipples (granted, not a terribly varied selection), they were compelling - mostly due to the fact that John Lennon features in them. The abstract poetry gracing the walls in the same room also made for an interesting read.
The wish-tree was a nice finishing touch; with predictable things like “world piece” which, for me, emphasised the obviousness of some parts of the exhibition in an irritating way, but with others, for example; ones about ill family members and “I wish for a smaller chin” which evoked warmer emotions towards the writer.
All in all, it was an interesting and thought-provoking exhibition; which I would recommend highly to others, although not one’s that are too artistically snobby.