Yoko Ono, born in 1933 in Tokyo, is a living legend and an influential artist of our time. To mark the artists 80th birthday earlier this year Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
is showing a major retrospective exhibition of well over a hundred works, demonstrating the diversity of media and disciplines in Yoko Onos artistic production and pinpointing the central themes with which Yoko Ono works. For more than 50 years Yoko Ono has been a leading avant-garde artist and a pioneer in the artistic fields to which she has devoted her life, and she continues to occupy a central position in contemporary art.
Yoko Ono expresses herself with equal simplicity and originality in visual art, poetry, film, music, installation, performance art and events. The main element in her works is ideas, not materials. Many of these ideas are poetic, bizarre and utopian, others are realizable in practice. They reflect her subtle humour as much as her decidedly socially critical attitudes. While some ideas are manifested in the form of objects, others remain on the non-material plane. The starting point for many of the works is Yoko Onos Instructions, oral or written requests to the public. In this way the artist gives the viewer an active role in the process of creation.
A retrospective exhibition
The exhibition offers a rare opportunity to orient oneself broadly in Yoko Onos multifaceted artistic universe, and follows a loose chronology.
In 1952 Yoko Ono returned to America to attend Sarah Lawrence College, just outside of New York City and already in the early 1960s became known for her ground-breaking, experimental conceptual and performance works, which were shown at first in New York and later in Japan. The Instructions for Paintings exhibited in 1961 and 1962, like her famous performance like her famous performance Cut Piece and the book Grapefruit, both from 1964 helped to consolidate her position at the leading edge of the New York and Tokyo avant-garde milieu.
The first section of the exhibition features the most important works from this period, including film and photo documentation of the early performances, texts, films and objects, and sheds light on her crucial influence on the Fluxus movement around George Maciunas and on early conceptual and performance art.
Yoko Onos interest in architecture has been a recurring element in her art. As early as 1965 she wrote various conceptual architectural pieces. As an introduction to the exhibition at Louisiana, one of Yoko Onos major architectural installations, En Trance, will be shown for the first time in many years. This architectural wall, with its ambiguous title, involves six different options offering varied experiences, all depending on which the visitor chooses.
The exhibition continues with large spatial installations and recent works, as well as a brand new installation, Moving Mountains, created especially for this exhibition. The public is invited, individually or together with others, to form mobile sculptures from cloth bags made available in the exhibition, to the soundtrack of Yoko Onos song Moving Mountains from the album Between My Head And The Sky.
One of the exhibition rooms is specifically devoted to Yoko Onos musical production, represented by music videos, concert recordings, LP/CD covers, concert posters and listening islands.
Yoko Onos great political commitment and her enduring efforts to reach out and engage in dialogue with people all over the world with her messages, can be experienced both within and outside the walls of the museum. Some of the forms she uses to achieve this are through the use of social media, billboards and Participation Pieces.
Yoko Ono billboards in Copenhagen
While the City Ring subway system is being built, the project Byens Hegn (The City Fence), coordinated by the Metro Company, has been established in the capital. The idea of the project is to use the fences for temporary artistic initiatives, so that the fences form an exciting part of the cityscape.
Yoko Ono is well known for using city space as an expanded exhibition space. In connection with Louisianas exhibition Yoko Ono is contributing a billboard project to Byens Hegn at selected points in the city throughout the exhibition period. The messages the artist has chosen for Copenhagen are DREAM, TOUCH, IMAGINE, and BREATHE. The words can be experienced as poetic pauses for thought in the pulsating life of the city challenging the viewer to think about the everyday scene in new and different ways.
Go-Card art postcards
In collaboration with Yoko Ono, Go-Card is publishing three art postcards with poetic statements by the artist, created especially for the occasion. The postcards are distributed for free use in cafés, restaurants and cinemas all over the country.