In December 2013 I travelled to Sydney for a holiday and also rather excitedly to see the Yoko Ono War Is Over (If You Want It) exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for over a year. Sorry about that.
I’m a big Ono fan. I love the (apparent) simplicity of her art; her direct and universal ideas; her clouds. All of this I expected and was not disappointed, but I got a lot more out of this exhibition than I anticipated.
Most of Yoko Ono’s work from her artwork to her Twitter feed is about involving the viewer beyond just communicating it to them. Often that involvement is through planting ideas. Simple ideas, but big ideas. But there are also opportunities to take a direct part in the artwork. I had decided from the outset that I would involve myself in every aspect of this exhibition. And I’m so glad I did.
Mend Piece For Sydney
I don’t know whether it was ‘good’, or anything remotely like ‘art’. I do know that it didn’t matter. The act of creating this ‘mended’ piece of mishapen crockery with tape and string while thinking about a world that needed mending was a surprisingly powerful thing to do. I did feel like I was, somehow, helping to mend the world. Apparently at the end of every exhibition Yoko selects one piece she keeps for her personal collection.
IMAGINE MAP PEACE FOR SYDNEY
There were stamp pads and rubber stamps with ‘IMAGINE PEACE’ written in several different languages. Large maps were pasted around the room full to capacity of peace stamps from visitors. The effect was powerful. Below is my contribution (the English language stamp in the Antipodes).
A room with suspended soldier’s helmets filled with jigsaw pieces.
MY MOMMY IS BEAUTIFUL
Without a doubt, this was the one that resonated the most. A simple invitation to celebrate your mother with a note and a thought. This was very raw for me as my mother had passed away earlier in 2013 and this request for me to stop and create for her brought me to tears. I have been moved by art before, but never like this. I chose not to use words. Below is what I made.
I spoke with several of the MCA staff and found them all deeply enthusiastic about the work. Some even told me how much they enjoyed simply being there in the space (which is of course their workplace and maybe somewhere they’d not always want to be), as they loved the enviroment she had created. What I’ve shown above is only the participatory part of the exhibition and there was much more. I’ll include some more photos in a subsequent post. I left the exhibition feeling different to when I went in, it was an experience that not only made me feel something, but it also affected the way I was looking at the world. Even now, blue clouds remind me of Yoko’s work and her eternal message of peace. It’s strong stuff.
One final thing. A few floors above the exhibition in the cafe was another Yoko Ono participatory piece.
WISH TREE FOR SYDNEY