With some time to kill in Sydney yesterday I decided to visit the Yoko Ono exhibit, War is Over at the Museum of Contemporary Art and I am so glad did! War is Over is truly one of the best collections of art I have ever experienced. I use the word experience because that’s exactly what is was. It was extremely interactive with many of the art works inviting you to participate as well as reflecting on the meaning of each piece. I could not help but feel a sense of peace and contentment as I explored the works. It is interesting to note that as I look over the photos I took on my iPhone I feel an emotional attachment to each piece, as though each piece is a part of my personal story. Yoko Ono is a true artist and right now she has to be one of my favorites. So I decided that because the experience was so amazing I would have to share some of those IPhone photos with you.
Cut Piece was first performed in 1964. On the left is film documentation of the original performance and on the right, film documentation from a performance in 2003. Audience members were invited to cut pieces of her clothing away as she sat impassively upon the stage. The relationship between younger and older woman as well as questions of vulnerability and dignity are touched upon in both films.
Yoko Ono invites us in this piece to write down where we want to go and place it on the art work. I must admit, I also was impressed with the Louis Vuitton trunk (Yoko Ono’s personal luggage)…I want one!!
My Mummy is Beautiful is a wall of private messages written by audience members to their mothers. It is an interesting experience as you look over the messages you will read loving messages, some angry messages and some materialistic. Some say ‘I forgive you’, some say, ‘I wish I had told you… while you were alive’, it is a truly moving experience. Yoko Ono says that she has long been interested in the complexity of gender and this piece is deeply personal to her as well. As a mother and grandmother, she reflects on her own maternal relationship and says she created it because she felt that she never gave enough credit to her mother. On a deeper level , My own experience was that, I may never have a note written to me in this way as I am not and may never be a mother.
Mend piece was really cool. Audience members are invited to sit down and mend broken pieces of crockery which are then displayed on shelves. Yoko writes ” Mend Piece for Sydney. Mend Carefully. While you mend, think of mending the world.”
This is inspired by Yoko’s experience of World War II as a child living in Japan. Along with her brother they used to look at the sky and envision a better future for humanity. There is also a tv on one side of the gallery space that shows a live feed of the sky above, relayed from a camera on the roof. The theme here involves a collection of World War II helmets suspended from the roof, each filled with pieces of blue sky. Audience members are encouraged to take a piece of sky in the hope they will return one day in the future to build a beautiful new sky together.
Touch me III is silicone moulds of parts of womans body. There is a bowl of water placed at one end of the display and audience members are encouraged to dip their hands in the water and touch the body parts. My Iphone took a terrible picture of this but it was a curious and interesting experience. As the body is touched by more and more people, it has become damaged slightly to which Yoko Ono says is a reminder of the violent treatment so many women endure in their daily lives.
Doors and sky puddles won Yoko the 8th Hiroshima Art Prize in 2011. It comprises of doors that appear to float, self supported on the gallery floor – a physical presence redolent of past lives and locations. The doors are old and peeling and some have tiny handwritten messages from Yoko on them. The clouds and sky are inverted into sky puddles like liquid spills. Yoko wrote in 1968 that doors are just a figment of our imagination suggesting that barriers only exist in our mind. She has also written haiku poetry along the gallery wall adjacent.
Family Album & Balance piece were kind of eery. Yoko Ono’s art is affirmative and reflective often with a message that wishes for a more peaceful world. However she also uses her art as a means to understand human nature and the capacity of violence within us all.
And finally, walk up to the rooftop terrace at the MCA to see the wish trees for Sydney. Write your wish on a tag and tie it on. Then relax, take in the view and reflect on the experience you just had…thats what I did 🙂
Have you experienced War is Over by Yoko Ono yet? I would love to hear your thoughts and musings and carry on the discussion…