Yoko Ono has always been an outsider, a role that doubtlessly contributed to perceptions of her as that strange woman who cast a spell on John Lennon and broke up the Beatles. Even 50 years later, the mere mention of her name can still cause fans of the Fab Four to froth at the mouth. But at 85, and thanks to a growing number of exhibitions celebrating her controversial creativity, Ono has moved beyond the hatred to become a target—as well as an advocate—of love. “She is one of the great figures of the 1960s and ’70s, and she is still going forward,” says Meredith Chilton, on-site curator for an Ono installation that opens February 22 at Toronto’s Gardiner Museum.
The exhibition Yoko Ono: The Riverbed invites audience participation to complete its message of social activism. In Stone Piece, Ono instructs attendees to choose a stone from a pile on the floor, “and hold it until all your anger and sadness have been let go.” In Line Piece, she asks you to select a notebook in which to sketch or draw a line to “take me to the farthest place in our planet…” Mend Piece is composed of broken teacups as well as string, glue, and tape. In asking for the fragments to be made whole again, the artist invites her audience to engage in a larger process of healing. “Mend with wisdom, mend with love,” she writes. “It will mend the earth at the same time.”
If any of this sounds strange, Chilton reminds us that art invites contemplation and feeds a spiritual need.
The exhibition will run from February 22 to June 3, 2018.
Yoko Ono: The Riverbed was first shown in New York at the Galerie Lelong and Andrea Rosen Gallery simultaneously as parallel exhibitions.
Photography by Christopher Burke.
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