Yoko Ono
Half-A-Wind Show

As I wrote in my last post, I hurried up to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art to see Yoko Ono’s retrospective exhibition last Tuesday. Sadly I was not there at opening night a week before and I felt even worse when I learned that Yoko Ono had been there.

The exhibition is a rather large retrospective, showing her most important work from the early sixties until now. Throughout my MA I’ve been looking at the Fluxus artists as a group (rather than digging into any one of them in particular) so it was interesting seeing an exhibition focused on one artist as a single individual.

As I was entering the exhibition a curious sign caught my eye. It said: ‘The works are not to be touched, unless otherwise indicated’. I was relieved – this meant that at least some of the work would be participative or interactive – as it should be with Fluxus art. I couldn’t film the exhibition because it’s not allowed at the museum but I’ve taken a few photos in secret at I bought the exhibition catalogue which I’ll show some pictures from.


The first  work that met my eye was ‘Eye Blink / Fluxfilm 09′ (1966)  a slow-motion short film showing a single blink of Ono’s eye.

The for room also contained the work ‘Ceiling Painting’ which is also from 1966.The work is a ladder where you climb up to the ceiling and view the word ‘yes’ in tiny letters on a painting through a looking glass. Sadley, since it was the original ’66 ladder, on was not allowed to try the work out. This was the only artwork that I managed to take a photo of before the guard saw me.

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This room also contained a the (formerly) interactive art piece ‘Painting To Hammer A Nail’ (1966) http://imaginepeace.com/archives/7296. The ‘painting’ is a wooden board with a hammer tied to it. The description tells people to hammer in nails, when the work is covered it is finished. As the piece is covered it was now behind a plexiglass screen – this DIY work is an early example of participatory art.


Moving further into the exhibition the following works caught my eyes:

Cut Piece (1964). The piece was presented as photos of Ono’s performance from ’64. The work is a participatory  art performance where Ono sits on a stage and has her clothes cut from her body by the audience. The performance is widely recognized for it’s powerful feministic message.


Air Capsules (1971/2013). 4 or 5 sweets dispensers were placed in the middle of a large room, for 2 DKKR one could get a small transparent plastic container, empty as it contained only air. I was stunned by the simplicity of the work though it also had several layers of meaning. It’s a joke on our for your convenience society and it tells us that there is no such thing as an empty space.

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Danger Box (1971). I loved the simplicity of this work. A plexiglass pedestal with a hole in its top and the following warning engraved on a silver plaque: ‘WARNING. The management will not guarantee that a hand put in this hole will come out in the same condition as prior to the entry.’ On one level it’s just a mind game, what could possible happen to my hand in this seemingly safe environment?


On the other hand its almost Magritte ‘Ceci nest pas une pipe’ logic. My hand will not be in the same condition it will be seconds older when I retrieve it.

Telephone In Maze (1971/2013). Telephone maze had the same kind of underplayed humor as Danger Box. You enter a small plexiglass maze with a small white pedestal with a white phone in the middle. A silver plaque in the entrance tells you that if the phone rings you must pick it up. Though I had not heard the phone ring before I entered I had a ticklish feeling in my stomach of anticipation the whole time I was in the maze. Of course the phone did not ring, I wasn’t even plugged in – but the thought of what I would do or say if it had was amazing.

White Chess Set (1966/2013). Two chess tables with only white chess pieces and an invitation to try to play the game. I can only imagine how confusing and distorted a game of chess at this table would be. Two women were sitting at one of the tables and laughing as they attempted to play.


Wish Tree (1996/2013). In the beautiful museum garden an old tree had been selected for this last participatory work. One could write a wish on a note and hang it on a tree branch. This work is probably the one that has most to do with my own MA practice. The work is nothing without a large base of participants. It also has another dimension in Denmark where there is a tradition of letting toddlers hang their pacifiers on dedicated trees when they stop using them – the pacifiers are often accompanied by notes where the children thank them for comforting them for the first years or their lives.

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I ended up buying three books relevant to my MA in the museum shop. The exhibition catalogue. A book DIY art featuring many of Ono’s participatory pieces. And a short book on concept art.

The DIY artwork book has interesting thoughts on the difference between a interactive artwork (viewer must interact but does not alter the artwork) a participatory artwork (viewer must participate in creating the artwork but the artist directs the participants and keeps control of the artwork). An collaborative art (participants have bigger influence on the outcome and might even help direct it).


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