Yoko Ono: Our Beautiful Daughters

January 13 – March 10, 2012
Vadehra Art Gallery, D-178, Okhla Phase 1, New Delhi 110020, India.

A parallel exhibition, The Seeds, exhibiting Ono’s earlier work, will run at
Vadehra Art Gallery, D-53, Defence Colony, New Delhi 11024, India.

Performance: Yoko Ono: To India With Love – 15 January 2012
Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, 7:30pm. Limited invitations.

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AFP: Yoko Ono opens her exhibition in India

AFP: Yoko Ono, the artist and widow of John Lennon, says India’s booming art scene will be fertile ground for her experimental work as she prepares for her first show in the country. Duration: 01:16

IBN Live: Yoko Ono in India for ‘Our Beautiful Daughters’

Yoko Ono, Wish Tree, Installation View, "Our Beautiful Daughters," Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2012; Photo by Briana Blasko, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, Wish Tree, Installation View, "Our Beautiful Daughters," Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2012; Photo by Briana Blasko, © Yoko Ono.

Ono’s Own

by Manjari Kaul, Art Slant

Does Quiet Meditation like roller coaster rides that make her dizzy? When a doleful morn meets a discomfiting confrontation, do they look each other in the eye? Does dollops of cathartic effect go with a tinge of alienation? Quaint Wit wishes to be introduced to the family of Graceful Rhythm – Is Graceful rhythm ready for the next “beat”? When metaphysical talks to material simplicity, is all lost in translation? Who will believe that violence and empathy had the perfect summer romance?

There’s something about Yoko Ono’s work that cuts across boundaries of various emotional affects, genres and even times. Her five decades of work in performance art, video, installation, film, music and poetry have most often focused on an anti-war message and feminist issues combining activism with art. “Our Beautiful Daughters”, Yoko Ono’s first ever exhibition in India, invites its audience to participate in her art and activism, to establish a communion and to heal. The exhibition is accompanied by a parallel retrospective called, “The Seeds” which presents her iconic works like “Cut Piece” and “Bed Peace”. Alongside this are her public art projects: “Wish Tree” is inspired by her childhood experience of visiting a temple in Japan where she would write a wish on a paper and attach it to a tree branch. This project, initiated in 1996 has collected a million wishes of people around the world. These wishes are collected and finally sent to the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland. Several wish trees have been placed in schools, hospitals, coffee shops, book stores and museums in Delhi. Her public instruction project uses advertising as a medium for art. Messages like “smile”, “touch”, “dream” and “our beautiful daughters” are displayed as banners in English and Hindi across the city. The artist’s instruction postcards have been placed at various public places in the city. Her performance art piece, about which she said (in a press conference before the show), “You will create it with me”, is titled “To India With Love”. It was realised for an exclusive audience who came out with mixed responses – from “absurd” to “humorous” and “radical”.

Yoko Ono, Remember Us, Installation View, "Our Beautiful Daughters," Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2012; Photo by Briana Blasko, © Yoko Ono.

“The Seeds” provides historical citations to her work in a way that defies a linear trajectory. Films of her work, “Cut Piece” performed in New York (1965) and in Paris (2003) are projected on walls opposite each other. The two versions of the artworks speak to each other and their juxtaposition endows the pair with a greater significance than either would command on its own. People come and snip at the clothes of a young Yoko Ono (“angry and turbulent”, according her own admission) on one wall and seventy years old (calm and accepting). Also displayed are photographs from the worldwide “War is Over (if you want it)” campaign for peace that Ono and John Lennon led together in 1969. A film on “Bed Peace” (1969), the event performed by Ono and Lennon in protest of the Vietnam War, plays in a room plastered with maps of the Indian subcontinent on the walls (“India Map Piece”). The viewer is called upon to stamp the words “Imagine Peace” in different languages on the map. Stamping, usually signifying ownership and authority, plays the role of a silent prayer, a hope for the future here.

That life and art are not two separate realms of human existence is made vivid and sonorous through the artist’s “Our Beautiful Daughters”. The installation “Remember Us” features headless, desiccated, naked silicon bodies of women lying on coal in black coffin-like containers and evokes the chilling resonance of witch-hunts and Sati. The viewer is confronted with dim lights on the carcasses of women of varied ages and body types; “Uncurse yourself” written in various languages on a wall in black; an ominous barbed wire gate; an aural track of bizarre noises abruptly followed by eerie silence; bowls of ash at the far end of the room – the installation fills one with horror, pity or the feeling of being violated. Is touching the bodies an act of establishing a connection or an act of abuse? Yoko Ono does not let us escape these questions as she mounts a confrontational attack on our senses and psyches.

Yoko Ono, Mend Piece, Installation View, "Our Beautiful Daughters," Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2012; Photo by Briana Blasko, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, Mend Piece, Installation View, "Our Beautiful Daughters," Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2012; Photo by Briana Blasko, © Yoko Ono.

What makes this work truly cutting edge is the artist’s commitment to collaboration, demonstrated through the engagement of Rajasthani weaver women to make covers for each of the bodies. These colourful and intricately hand-crafted “shrouds” hang next to each body as if in loving memory of the dead woman. “Mend Piece” and “Heal Together” are participatory art works that call upon people to stick together broken pieces of china and sew cloths onto a large, slashed canvas. There is a purging of the soul that takes place in the process of this collective repairing of the broken. It gives courage and allows one to forgive and come together to rebuild a world splintered by war and hatred. The work, “My Mommy is Beautiful” is a tribute to all mothers in the world from their children. Large white canvases have been filled up with colour and emotion in the form of hundreds of memoirs written to mothers. The messages range from humorous to confessional to philosophical. One note read: “The reason I fight for the environment is that I always want you to have the gardens you love.” While another said: “Mummy <3 She would clean this thinking I wrote on a white wall.” In another room, sitting on a bench, you click your own photo that will become part of the artist’s ongoing project — “smile film”. This work was a concept that Yoko Ono came up with in the 1967, a desire to make a film that included the smiling face of every person in the world.

Through the years, Ono has maintained the spirit of the Fluxus movement of which she was an active part in the 60s through her inter-media work, subtle humour and Zen-like minimalism, eschewing classifications. Yoko Ono may be a relic from times long forgotten but her appeal to what is humane within us is still stirring. Her ideas of “peace”, “beauty” and “healing the world through women’s power” might be appealing to simple universalism but her understanding of the world that she inhabits is far from reductive or naïve. The artist said this about her performance piece at a press conference: “That one hour [of the performance] will never happen again even if I perform the piece again for the very same audience because the lives of the audience members would have changed… We can’t be the same people again. That’s how our lives are. Fleeting.”

Ephemeral though our lives may be, the relevance and affective quality of some experiences is not. Ono’s art is one of them. She quietly meditates through a dizzying roller coaster ride and introduces Quaint Wit to the family of Graceful Rhythm in her work.


Yoko Ono bonds with Bika craftswomen

by Nikita Puri, India Today

An interactive installation by Yoko Ono called Mend Piece, on display at Vadehra Art Gallery, Okhia.

For an artist and performer with a history of causing shock and awe, 78-year-old Yoko Ono oozed grandmotherly vibes as she bonded with eight woman embroiderers from Bikaner at the Vadehra Art Gallery in Okhla.

The fire was in her spirit and not in her body language as she championed the cause of the exploited Everywoman. She’s in the city to work on an elaborate project called ‘Our Beautiful Daughters’.

A highlight of this multi-exhibition project is the installation of female body parts created out of silicon and packed in coffin-like boxes filled with charcoal. It’s called ‘Remember Us’ and is scattered in a room whose bare walls are gaily decorated with colourful odhnis hand-embroidered by the women from Bikaner.

“Women in this world are not treated well – they are just thrown away and discarded when they die. No matter where you go, this piece will connect with audiences worldwide,” Yoko Ono said, peering over her trademark dark glasses even as her smart white fedora rested daintily on her head.

Yoko Ono interacts with an embroiderer from Bikaner

The artist, singer and peace activist was having a wonderful time with the women who had come from a border village 90 km away from Bikaner. The women maintained a shy silence, barring the oldest among them, 50-year-old Tarabai, who chatted away merrily with the help of an interpreter, complimenting Yoko Ono on her “beauty”.

“I am delighted with the level of artistic creativity that these women have shown in the beautiful work done by them,” Yoko Ono said to her interpreter. “I am happy to finally meet the women I had been working with.” She applauded the women of Rangsutra – a society of traditional pit loom weavers – for picking up hand embroidery and becoming bread earners for their families.

“You are now empowered and don’t have to depend on anyone. You are very lucky ladies – don’t let your talent fade away,” she said. Her image seemed light years away from the heady days when John Lennon and she staged a ‘bed-in’ in Amsterdam in 1969 to protest against the Vietnam War.

She went on to explain the symbolism of the broken ceramic pieces lying on the table, meant to be taped up was titled ‘Mend Piece’. “Mend the pieces as you like, but think of mending the world at the same time,” Yoko Ono said. Shutterbugs had a busy time as the little lady walked around, putting the ‘mended’ ceramics on display shelves.

Besides the interactive ‘Mend Piece’ and ‘My Mommy is Beautiful’, Ono’s famous ‘Wish Tree’ is also in place at the gallery. First unveiled in 1996, the Ficus tree installation is inspired by her childhood experiences in Japanese temples – it invites people to write their wishes and tie them onto the tree. If Yoko Ono has come to India with the wish to make a splash, the Ficus seems to have ensured she gets it.

Some art, some activism: Artist-activist Yoko Ono, wife of Beatle John Lennon, is here

by Madhur Tankha, The Hindu

Artist Yoko Ono flanked by Roshni (left) and Parul (right) of Vadehra Art Gallery which is mounting her new show in New Delhi.

Multi-faceted Japanese personality Yoko Ono, on a ten-day trip to India these days, is going to give discerning Indian art lovers a feel of what avant-garde international art is all about.

The artist-activist last visited the country on a pilgrimage with her famous husband John Lennon, of The Beatles fame, during the 1970s. This time round, Delhi’s Vadehra Art Gallery is hosting a two-month-long exhibition of her experimental works.

The exhibition promises to generate unusual interest among Indian art aficionados given the fact that Yoko Ono has a knack of coming up with out-of-the-box ideas, like one of her conceptual works which was placed on the floor and became a complete art work upon the accumulation of footprints.

Her new show, “Our Beautiful Daughters”, focuses on the issue of gender. Yoko Ono has created a special installation that highlights challenges faced by women. A parallel exhibition titled “The Seeds” offering a glimpse into her earlier films and collaborations with other artists will be held at the gallery’s other premises in Defence Colony, also in the Capital.

A noted peacenik, Yoko seeks to give Indian women a position of dignity. “India has many intelligent beautiful women. I love them because despite their suffering they are still standing on their own feet. Women are in a difficult position than men in many societies. They have unique qualities and their understanding of how nature is sustaining itself is tremendous. Men want to be powerful be it politics, law, creating war or suppressing people who are not powerful than them. The more you do this the more we are heading for a doomsday scenario,” says she.

The septuagenarian, sporting her trademark sunglasses and hat, has a word of caution for those who do not give women their due respect. “If we can hold on to woman power then we may survive. It must not be forgotten that women are the creators of the human race. They need to be treated properly. The struggle for world peace and woman power is parallel. If we achieve peace, freedom and justice for women then only can we see a peaceful society.”

Yoko said she needs to learn all about what is happening in India through her local women colleagues. “But I know for a fact that India and China are fast emerging as great economic powers.”

Talking about her exhibition, Yoko has come out with wish trees that will be installed at two dozen institutions across Delhi. People can write their views on a scrap of paper that would be tied on the wish tree.

The wish tree was first made in 1996 inspired by her childhood experience of visiting a temple in Japan. “It is for everyone. I wanted to make something totally original. The wishes will be sent to Imagine Peace Tower (a memorial to John Lennon) in Iceland,” she says.

At Yoko’s Show, Funeral Pyres and Tributes to Mommy

By Malavika Vyawahare, The New York Times

Yoko Ono works on an art installation titled “Remember Us“, part of her exhibition “Our Beautiful Daughters”, that opened Thursday at the Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi. Photo: Briana Blasko/Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono’s first exhibition in India, called “Our Beautiful Daughters,” at the Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi, could also be called “Art Under Construction.” All seven exhibits in the show, which opened Thursday night, ask the spectators to participate in them.

“Remember Us” on the first floor is the special installation Ms. Ono made for India, consisting of a large, dimly lit room with casts of beheaded, dismembered women’s bodies of different ages laid on pyrelike platforms. Small containers of ash at one end of the room seem to invite viewers to rub it on themselves or the bodies. At the end of the day, the bodies are covered with traditionally embroidered cloth made by Indian artisans – an important part of the art installation. One wall has “I am uncursed” splashed across it in black paint in different languages. Sounds from the Indian streets form the aural backdrop, making the experience at once provocative and surreal.

The art installation titled “Remember Us“. Photo: Briana Blasko/Yoko Ono

Laura Bradburn, a student from New York, said she was struck by how it captured her discomfort in India, where she feels “it falls on the women to cover themselves up and not the men to control themselves.”

On the second floor are six of Ms. Ono’s famous works that have appeared in galleries across the world. On opening night, there was also a group of female artisans from “rangSutra,” a company that ensures a sustainable livelihood for traditional artisans and farmers, who made the cloth pieces used in the India installation. Their excitement was evident from the smiles they flashed, seated before a camera that is part of Ms. Ono’s “Smiling Face Film.” She has captured pictures of people smiling from several countries, and already has thousands of pictures from the Americas and Europe.

In the “Mend Piece” exhibit, broken pieces of crockery are laid out on a large table. Viewers of all ages were bent over trying to put them together with super glue and then carefully placing their creations in a showcase.

An undercurrent of undoing the effects of violence is also evident in “Heal Together,” where a mounted, slashed canvas is sewn together by visitors.

Atul Dodiya, a renowned contemporary Indian artist who was at the opening, displayed a special interest in Ms. Ono’s protest against violence, perhaps because he has created a series on Gandhi and his message of nonviolence himself. “She is one of the finest conceptual artists around,” Mr. Dodiya said. “Without becoming obviously political, Yoko Ono has a lot to say.”

So do the people who were busy writing messages for and about their mothers on blank canvases at the “My Mommy Is Beautiful” exhibit. Ms. Ono asks for translations of the messages, which are written in different languages on this canvas, after which she writes her own message.

It was clear looking around the gallery Thursday night, abuzz with people and art pieces created by many hands, that Ms. Ono’s larger message required no special qualifications in conceptual art for visitors to engage with it or understand it.

On a terrace outside is “Voice Piece for Soprano,” which invites people to “Scream. 1. against the wind 2. against the wall 3. against the sky.” As I made my way out someone was screaming quite melodiously into the mike, “Imagine all the people living together as one.”

“Our Beautiful Daughters” runs until March 10 at the Vadehra Art Gallery, D-178 Okhla Phase 1, New Delhi. The gallery is tucked behind a Canon showroom, and is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Sundays.

Yoko Ono aims to wow India

from Japan Today

NEW DELHI — Yoko Ono, the artist and widow of John Lennon, said on Thursday that India’s booming art scene would be fertile ground for her experimental work as she prepared for her first show in the country.

Ono, who is renowned for her outlandish ideas, will display multi-media pieces at 20 venues across the capital New Delhi from Friday and also hold a live performance at the weekend.

“I will be learning a lot of things from this beautiful and very grand land,” she said, as she returned to the country for the first time since a trip with her late husband in the 1970s.

The Japanese-born 78-year-old said her and Lennon, who was shot dead in New York in 1980, visited Mumbai and then traveled to a mountain ashram of a spiritual guru.

“It was an incredible experience,” she said. “John and I thought it was something like out of the Bible going up this mountain, but I remember we were told men and women could not sit together at the camp.

“John insisted we sit together.”

The Beatles famously relocated to the foothills of the Indian Himalayas in 1968 where they adopted a guru, took up meditation and enjoyed a rich song-writing period.

Ono said she didn’t know what would happen with her live show in India.

“Each live show is different depending on who is there and what feeling I get from the audience,” she said.

“I am delighted to find many women running India’s art world,” Ono, who has been a vocal feminist for decades, added.

Among her most striking live performances is a show when people are encouraged to use scissors to cut pieces off her clothes.

Ono, wearing her trademark sunglasses and tilted hat, told reporters that her art was accessible to all and that she hoped Indians would see it as part of her lifelong campaign for world peace.

“I don’t think my work is ‘cutting edge’. I just create something that comes to me as inspiration,” she said. “Right now they are bombing countries… What would Gandhi think of that?”

The Delhi exhibition, called “Our Beautiful Daughters”, which includes video, music and viewer-participation elements, is being organized by the private Vadehra Art Gallery and runs until March 10.

A Conversation With: Yoko Ono

By Heather Timmons, New York Times

Artist Yoko Ono brings her first-ever show to India in mid-January, a multi-city tour titled “Our Beautiful Daughters” that is expected to include a live performance and brand-new work created just for India. Ms. Ono’s last visit to India was in the 1970s, when she came with husband John Lennon.

Ahead of the show, Ms. Ono fielded a few questions from India Ink via e-mail.

The Title of your show, Our Beautiful Daughters, carries a poignant charge in India, where female foeticide continues to be a serious problem and women often lag men in literacy and opportunity. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the title and what message you are hoping to bring with the show?
I am aware of the sufferings of women in India, which is also the suffering of women in many, many countries on our planet. My heart is filled with empathy and love for them. I could not visit fast enough to hug my sisters and reassure them that we are all together.

You are often described as a “feminist artist.” What do you think of that title? Has the role of women in the world evolved they way you thought it would when you first started making art?
I think there is a strong backlash now. So it is not so easy for women yet. I appeal to the wisdom and sensitivity of men of our world who will know that it is better for all of us, if women can add their power to better the world.

Why do you think India resonated particularly with John, and did it with you as well?
John and I felt we understood the problems of India and how we can breathe together to make it well.

What role can art play in the lives of India’s hundreds of millions of people who are just barely eking out a living, if that?
We need to open people’s hearts to HOPE and a strong belief that we can walk the road of hope together.

Yoko Ono to make India women challenges artwork

BBC News India

John Lennon’s widow and artist Yoko Ono is creating a special installation for India on the challenges facing women, the gallery hosting the event says.

A public performance by Ono is part of the show – Our Beautiful Daughters – to be held at Delhi’s Vadhera Art Gallery.

Ono told the BBC that she was “inspired by India and its daughters” and was looking forward to her visit to India.

The show will also present an archive of her films, music, and collaborations with Lennon.

Roshni Vadhera of the gallery said Ms Ono was “creating a special new installation for India that will engage the audience and shed light on some of the challenges women face today”.

She will also exhibit some of her “instruction-based works” – similar to one in which she invited viewers to cover empty canvases and walls with messages and photographs of their mothers, Ms Vadhera said.

“India was always on my radar,” Ono said in an email interview with the BBC.

“I have been there with my husband John a long time ago. Karma-wise it is interesting that I have been asked to come to the country I love and respect at this time when the world is going haywire,” Ono said.

She said she and Lennon had visited the “camp” of the late Indian guru Sai Baba during their last visit to India, though she did not mention when the visit took place.

Asked what she was looking forward to seeing in India during her visit, Ms Ono said: “I would like to see that the ancient spirit of India is still intact and strong in the hearts of people.”

Ms Ono said she led a busy life doing her art, music and looking after Lennon’s legacy.

“I think I am a good artist/musician. But I never compare myself with other artists/musicians,” she said.

Our Beautiful Daughters will launch at on 13 January and run till 10 March.

“This is the first time that India will experience Ono’s iconic global presence and we have many exciting events planned around her visit, ” Ms Vadhera said.

The gallery will plant clusters of small trees in 15 locations in Delhi, including in schools and hospitals, as a tribute to Ono’s campaign for world peace, the gallery said.

Inspire me, India: Yoko Ono

Damini Purkayastha, Hindustan Times

Yoko Ono is Delhi-bound. The avant-garde artist, best known as the wife of late Beatles legend John Lennon, will be in the Capital in January to introduce India to her art.

The 78-year-old, who is a singer, bestselling author, pioneering artist and keen activist, says she’s looking forward to being “inspired” by the land. “The visit in the past was just to appreciate and enjoy India’s land and culture; this time I am coming for encouragement and inspiration,” she says in an interview from New York.

Besides the much talked about visit of the Beatles to India in 1968, Ono and Lennon had also visited the country together. “(After) the famous visit he made with his three friends, John and I later visited India just by ourselves, and loved it,” she says.

Her exhibition, Our Beautiful Daughters, hosted by the Vadehra Art Gallery, opens on January 13 and Ono will also perform live on January 15 at the India Habitat Centre. “I will be doing music as well. I am hoping that I can do it with Indian musicians,” she adds.

Last year, her band, the Plastic Ono Band, formed in 1969 while Lennon was alive, performed with artistes like Lady Gaga, Scissor Sisters, Eric Clapton and others. Ono says she’s now a great admirer of pop idol Gaga. “She’s incredible. She is somebody who is giving strong energy, encouragement and inspiration to the world in her own way.”

An active user of Twitter, Ono has 1,747,304 followers, and often talks about peace and art on her handle. “Twitter is haiku in action, and not as monologue, but as dialogue. I think it’s great,” she says. One area she is yet to discover is Indian cinema. But she says she’s aware of how important it is. “I know that it is a very active department in Indian culture. Just as we learnt a lot of things from Hollywood films for ages, I think the world will learn many things from Indian films about truth, justice and freedom.”