YOKO ONO: SKYLADDERS
Yoko Ono was in Liverpool on Sunday to visit her ‘Skyladders’ installation at St Lukes Church.
It’s grown since I first saw it. Essentially the idea is that you drop off a ladder with a personal message on.
Ladders aren’t just things for standing on while you remove wallpaper, they are steps that take you one bit closer to the sky.
by Pete Carr
“Over the ten weeks of the Biennial, with the public’s help, a forest of ladders will grow inside St. Luke’s Church. Liverpool Skyladders invites us all to find space for dreams and the imagination under the open skies.”
Photos from Flickr:
YOKO ONO VISITS LIVERPOOL TO LOOK AT LADDERS
Skyladders for Liverpool 08 takes a recurring theme of the 75- year-old artist’s work and places it in the evocative surroundings of St Luke’s bombed-out church in the city centre.
“The Skyladders was originally a piece I dedicated to John, John Lennon”, she clarifies softly, as if any explanation were necessary. “I really loved this church and wanted to do it there because it is an incredible monument.
“You can say it is a kind of a sculpture in itself, expressing the historical disaster and all of that. Skyladders is trying to reach the sky, and at the same time I think it is a very good celebration. It is also getting to be so expressive as people put words on those little cards. For me, it has sort of a private memory about it as well.”
The Skyladders concept first came to Ono in the 1960s. Regarded at the time as avant-garde, she said it was “amazing” that Lennon connected with it and understood. Since the 1980s, Ono has constructed her Skyladders pieces using stepladders donated by the public.
It was following the murder of Lennon, she says, that she “really started to feel the togetherness of all of us, missing John and going through this tremendously tragic thing.
“It’s great, even from the beginning it was a performance art event where people would gather and do something, that was an important part of it. It is so beautiful. It’s really such an honour to be asked to do this, I’m very pleased.”
It is a welcome return to the Biennial for Ono. She last exhibited in 2004 with My Mummy Was Beautiful, a public work of photographs of isolated parts of the female form which caused some consternation.
“I was stoned,” she giggles. “Well, there’s two meanings for that word. But some people felt it was not proper and some people liked it. It became a very controversial work, which I didn’t expect it to be.”
Biennial organisers now believe the fact that there was no political interference in the debate over My Mummy Was Beautiful paved the way for the city’s Capital of Culture success.
Ono has been no stranger to the city in 2008, visiting for an exhibition of John Lennon’s artwork and Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Sound concert in June, and earlier to mark the re-opening of the Bluecoat with a one-off performance, 41 years after first appearing at the venue.
“I enjoyed that immensely,” she smiles, remembering how she got the crowd standing to ‘dance for peace’. “I just wanted to give some kind of excitement, and inspire people.”
John Lennon featured heavily in the retrospective piece of performance art, but Ono says she doesn’t know what he would have made of 2008.
“But the point is John was very proud of Liverpool. He was always comparing it to New York City. He couldn’t forget it. I have a definite connection to Liverpool because of John and John’s childhood and that he was formed in this particular city. It’s very important in that sense, but at the same time if I didn’t like the city I wouldn’t come, whether John was born here or not. It is an incredible city with incredible people and definitely, I feel, people are feeling much stronger about themselves.”
from Liverpool Daily Post
YOKO ONO BACK IN LIVERPOOL TO SEE LADDER ARTWORK
The Liverpool Skyladders is a collection of ladders positioned in the ruins of St Luke’s Church in Liverpool city centre, commissioned for a festival of contemporary art.
Around 25 ladders, including single step and nine foot tall wood and aluminium frames, have been collected from the public since September for the work which is part of the MADE UP exhibition of international artwork commissioned for the Liverpool Biennial 2008.
Ono, who is 75 and donated her own set of ladders to the work today, said:
“Originally it was a piece I dedicated to John a long time ago in the 60s and he loved it. It was very avant-garde at the time. It grew into something new. After John’s passing I felt a strong kind of togetherness with people who went through the horror of it all (John Lennon’s death). I wanted the work to be dedicated to people as well. The ladder takes you a bit closer to the sky.”
Speaking about the collection, which is expected to grow until the end of the festival on November 30, Ono said:
“It’s just beautiful. I’m very happy that people understand it. It’s a very humble work. Each ladder isn’t anything special, it’s just special because it was brought by a person. Some of the ladders are very small. I like that idea of the modesty of the piece.”
Each ladder has a card written by the person that donated the steps.
When the Liverpool Biennial 2008 festival of contemporary visual art finishes on November 30, the work will be donated to charity or a public collection.
It is the fifth Liverpool Biennial since it was set up in 1998.
It is the UK’s largest and most widely reviewed festival of contemporary visual art, according to organisers Liverpool Biennial.
Lewis Biggs, Director of Liverpool Biennial, said: “I have been really pleased with the fact that all the step ladders are so individual. “There are three or four brand new ones. There are some covered in paint or bent or some from the 1950s. With the personal notes it is like the church is filling up with people rather than ladders. It’s a brilliant work for engaging people. I think she (Yoko Ono) is a really clever artist. We would like it to go to a public collection. That might or might not be a charity and we have started talking to various collections but we have not go to the point where we know which one might be the lucky recipient,” he added.
from Liverpool Daily Post.
THE NEW FACE OF LIVERPOOL
LIVERPOOL, England—It is mostly known as the city of the Beatles, the Liverpool Football Club, and ferries across the River Mersey, but under the 2008 European Capital of Culture tag — boasted by one or more cities in the European Union (previously the European Community) each year since 1985 — Liverpool is putting on a new face. This year’s Liverpool Biennial, which opened September 20 and runs through November 30, is part of that effort. And though it’s easy to be cynical about a show that seems like part of a marketing scheme, “MADE UP,” as this fifth edition is called, proves to be an engaging venture aimed at a range of audiences.
The Biennial’s core exhibition is spread out across the city, with artworks on view in three of the largest contemporary art venues — Tate Liverpool, the Bluecoat, and the Foundation for Art & Creative Technology (FACT) — as well as ten site-specific installations. The biennial’s artistic director, Lewis Biggs, looked to artists to create new pieces that worked “beyond documentary,” stating his hope that the overarching theme — the power of imagination — would prevent the deluge of information that inhabits and inhibits 21st-century life. The result is a show that at times verges on mere spectacle but nonetheless remains enjoyably creative, with installations by Ai Weiwei, Tomas Saraceno, and David Altmejd, among others. One of the most successful contributions is Diller Scofidio + Renfo’s Arbores Laetae (Joyful Trees) (2008), a land installation consisting of 17 hornbeam trees planted in a roadside green space. What at first appears to be a natural scene is subverted upon extended viewing, as three of the trees, and a small circular area of space surrounding each of them, slowly rotate on a submerged roundabout. The effect is subtle, contemplative, and almost magical.
Yoko Ono returns to the hometown of her late husband with an evolving installation at the ruined St. Luke’s Church, titled Liverpool Skyladders (2008). Ono has invited visitors to donate stepladders to be placed alongside one that she has installed in the overgrown, roofless space, the end goal being a forest of the everyday items. The day before the biennial opened, Ono’s plan was looking like it would succeed: Half a dozen had already been added, each with a name credit and note from the former owner.
Other projects are less subtle in their attempts to grab the viewer’s attention. FACT’s exhibition of mostly multimedia artists seems to have been curated with the water-cooler effect in mind, comprised as it is of largely experiential artworks with a “wow” factor and photo-op potential. Ulf Langheinrich’s 3D projection LAND (2008), filmed in the historic widescreen CinemaScope format, even comes with a prop — a pair of 3D glasses given to each visitor to enhance the effect of strobes and flashing patterns. Yet ultimately, the work leaves one cold, lacking any deeper meaning.
Tate Liverpool offers an exhibition curated by Laurence Sillars that investigates imagined places and spaces. Israeli Guy Ben-Ner contributes his film Second Nature (2008), in which a fox and a crow, trained for films and television, reenact the Aesop fable The Fox and the Crow. In this version, the animal trainers are revealed and their techniques exposed; the two trainers also break into an excerpt from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Ben-Ner’s fellow countryman Omar Fast also investigates the constructed reality of film in his 30-minute video Take a Deep Breath (2008). The work tells the story of a film crew telling the story of an Israeli doctor who tries unsuccessfully to save a man caught in a bomb blast, only to realize later that the dead man was the suicide bomber. Also of particular note in the Tate show are detailed abstract photographs of modernist architectural masterpieces from Luisa Lambri, an epic allegorical landscape in oils by Ged Quinn, and cinematic light boxes featuring gothic scenes from the American West by Rodney Graham.
Concurrent to the biennial’s core program, two established art competitions have also opened. Shortlisted entries for the £25,000 ($45,500) John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize, which was awarded to British artist Peter McDonald, went on view at the Walker Art Gallery, where they remain through January 4, 2009. The Chapman brothers were part of the jury selecting 35 works from the 3,222 submissions, alongside art critic Sacha Craddock and painters Graham Crowley and Paul Morrison, and their influence can be seen clearly in a show that revels in the grotesque and apocalyptical — particularly the submissions from Sam Dargan, Stuart Pearson Wright, and Alex Gene Morrison. The second open competition, for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries prize, presents work by the best of the U.K.’s recent arts graduates, according to its jury for this year, artists Richard Billingham, Ceal Floyer, and Ken Lum. Historically, the prize has been a good gauge of who is likely to go on to bigger things, with Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, and Gillian Wearing passing through its ranks. This year’s 57 selections — on view at the A Foundation through November 22 — range from conceptual and beautiful balloon sculptures by 22-year-old David Stearn; to sublime, photographically manipulated landscapes by 29-year-old Sarah Michael; to the satirically cruel films of British duo Allsopp and Weir.
For its part in the Capital of Culture campaign, the biennial presents a hip, contemporary Liverpool — a depiction that largely rings true. Some clichés are hard to kill, however; for instance, when ARTINFO tried to view Gabriel Lester’s film The Last Smoking Flight (2008), playing in the back room of a pub, the regulars had hijacked the projector to watch Liverpool play Stoke City in the premier league. While Lester’s film may have been beautiful, the goalless draw certainly was not.
by Oliver Basciano, ArtInfo