YONO ONO: touch me – opening night: April 18th, 2008 (NYC)

by Yoko Ono

LeLong Gallery asked me to do a show. I immediately liked Mary Sabatino, who requested it. So I said yes. My mind was inspired as I checked out the space, and quickly envisioned the rooms with old works and new. Everything went very smoothly. But then, around the opening day, I suddenly realized that I had not done a one woman artshow in N.Y. for about 4 years. And it’s New York. Somehow, that combination made me feel a bit nervous. It made me nervous, too, that it was possible that nobody would be coming.

Well, that’s my fault. When I do a show, I keep saying “no, you don’t have to come” to friends who ask if they should or not. I always do that, even with concerts. “No, don’t come. You really don’t have to”. I discourage them so emphatically, they probably think it would be rude to come… I don’t know why I do that. I’m extra nervous before the shows. But if the show was good, I always feel a bit sad that my friends weren’t there!

The opening was really nice. The fact that it was a beautiful spring evening helped, too. People were all looking relaxed and happy. They seemed to be enjoying the participation pieces especially. “touch me I” required people going behind the canvas and expose some part of their bodies out from the holes. Somebody standing on the other side of the canvas took a polaroid of what you showed through the hole, and pinned the photo on “touch me II.” So “touch me II” immediately became filled up with polaroid photos of body parts.

All of us were checking out the photos. Somebody said there was a penis. So we all looked for it… not because we were interested in the penis, per se, it was just fun …looking for…what?! I didn’t find it. It might have been just a rumour. But there was a picture of a beautiful breast. Most of us, me included, just stretched our hands out from the holes. There were some legs, too.

Sean who came to the show before the opening (before he left for Paris), said “Now it’s only two hands out (mine and Sean’s girlfriends) but when this canvas is filled with stretched hands of women, it will be a statement.” Well, that was his vision, and I liked that, even though it turned out to be quite different.

“touch me III” is a bit delicate. It gets covered every day, when the show closes. So I covered it at the end of the opening, and sure enough a couple of really good friends of mine – even though I hadn’t invited them – arrived. So I was delighted to uncover the piece again for them.

I know there were some of you from Facebook (here,here & here), MySpace and IMAGINEPEACE.com.

Thank you for having joined me in this rather nerve wracking occassion for me.

I think I finally relaxed and had a good time because of you.

I felt protected by you.



YOKO ONO: touch me

Galerie Lelong, 528 West 26th Street, New York, NY

18 April 2008 – 31 May 2008

Yoko Ono’s first solo New York exhibition since 2003.

In touch me, Yoko Ono will present an interactive painting, film, conceptual photography and sculptures that comment on different facets of the female experience, calling upon the viewers to make direct and deeply personal connections.

Ono’s first New York exhibition since Odyssey of a Cockroach at Deitch Projects in 2003, touch me affords the audience an opportunity to experience her work in a new way. The exhibition will open to the public at Galerie Lelong on Friday, April 18, from 6 to 8 pm.

For over 40 years, Yoko Ono’s works have defied categorization, existing in the interstices between performance, music, objects and film. As one of the first conceptual artists, and one of the founders of Fluxus – an association of experimental, interdisciplinary artists and writers in the ’60s and ’70s – Ono is cited as a major influence on contemporary artists. She has redefined the boundaries between various movements: conceptual art, performance art, feminist art, and more. Many of her actions have bridged the distance between art and audience participation – which has always been a hallmark of Ono’s work.
A participatory element is central in touch me, in which Ono urges the audience to revitalize and rethink a personal connection to the most current situation women are facing.

The centerpiece of the exhibition will be a large canvas covering the entire width of the gallery. Openings will be cut into the canvas, and viewers are invited to insert body parts through. Encompassed in this simple act are opposing elements of isolation, exposure, vulnerability, and defiance.

The viewer will have the option to photograph themselves with supplied cameras; these photos will be displayed together on another canvas with the participant’s own comments and thoughts written underneath the photos, furthering the inclusive nature of this new work.

A 4 – screen installation version of Yoko Ono’s 1964 performance Cut Piece, filmed at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1965, will act as a counterpart for the metaphoric 2008 work.

Complementing this contemporary work will be Vertical Memory, in which a composite of a male face – combining Ono’s father, husband and son – is contrasted with the artist’s succinct and moving texts describing her passage from birth to death.

Also on view will be Memory Paintings, intimate 19th century portraits of women; and a sculpture from the series ‘Family Album (Blood Objects)‘, representing her mother.

Sky TV will serve as an anchor of hopefulness to the entire exhibition touch me.

YOKO ONO: touch me

Galerie Lelong, 528 West 26th Street, New York, NY

18 April 2008 – 31 May 2008

Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm

Contact: Stephanie Joson, 212 315 0470 or [email protected]

Photos below copyright Allan Tannenbaum.

Additional Flickr fan photos here.

Photos by Bob Gruen:

Photos by Karla Merrifield:

Photos by Malia Bellomo:

Touch Me III

Memory Painting

Vertical Memory

Vertical Memory

Sky TV

Sky TV

Family Album Exhibit M: High Heel Shoes, 1993

Photos from the end of the exhibition: