Finally got to the
Yoko Ono retrospective
at MIT. It's interesting in
that the pieces, by and large, aren't given the usual heirloom
treatment. In many cases, the viewer is invited to mess with the work
--- all-white chessboards, with white pieces on both sides, which
visitors are invited to play; a wishing tree by the door to which
visitors can add their own wishes on a provided supply of blank tags;
a telephone which Ono calls every once in a while to chat with whoever
might be there. Some of her most famous work is the "incomplete
paintings", which consist of instructions to the viewer --- there are
copies which you can remove from the gallery and carry away; I came
away with one, "smoke painting", which reads:
Light canvas or any finished painting with a cigarette at any time
for any length of time.
See the smoke movement.
The painting ends when the whole canvas or painting is gone.
Another old piece is the "blue room installation", consisting literally
of handwriting on a wall, which is recreated afresh for each showing.
The work is an idea; the idea is more important than any physical
manifestation of the work.
And yet, and yet.
One of the works on display is from the show at which Yoko met John
Lennon; it's the first piece he saw, and the one which got him to stay
in the gallery. On the ceiling above a white lader, in letters small
enough that you need the attached magnifying glass to read it, is the
Visitors are strongly cautioned not to climb the ladder.