////Group Show: Nuite Blanche [Toronto, Canada]

Group Show: Nuite Blanche [Toronto, Canada]

Yoko Ono’s career rehab complete

Yoko OnoYoko Ono’s rehabilitation from Beatles-buster to revered artist is now so thorough that no contemporary art season feels complete without some inclusion of her work or reference to her abiding influence.

Just check out her work at Nuit Blanche tonight (even though she won’t be on hand herself).

“I am constantly creating things,” she tells me over the phone from her New York apartment in the Dakota, the scene of husband John Lennon’s shooting death on Dec.8, 1980. “The art (at Nuit Blanche) is meant to bring joy, encouragement and inspiration to people.”

For the event, Ono’s Imagine Peace billboard in Liberty Village harks back to her “War is Over!” campaign waged in 12 cities with Lennon in the late 1960s. Much derided at the time for their simple-mindedness, the billboards – along with the couple’s bed-ins in Toronto and elsewhere – are now viewed as cornerstones in Ono’s emerging “utopian social program,” so called by a number of critics.

On Oct.10, Montreal’s Musée d’art contemporain opens “Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967,” organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, where 75-year-old Ono is given a central place in the section titled “Ono, Eno, Arto: Non-musicians and the Emergence of Concept Rock.”

Ono’s Wish Tree installation is another Nuit Blanche intervention, along with the distribution of 40,000 “Imagine Peace” buttons during the night at the southeast corner of Lamport Stadium, in Liberty Village. With Wish Tree, passersby can write a hopeful phrase on a tiny piece of paper, which can be affixed to a nearby tree. It’s an installation she has staged previously.

Wish Tree – also part of a current wide-ranging Ono retrospective in England – is in fact a contemporary projection of one of the artist’s earliest childhood memories in Japan, “when I was going to the Buddhist temple and would see all these beautiful white flowers in the bushes,” she explains. “In the temple itself you could buy these tiny slips of paper, which said you’d received good health or money or whatever. This was a very old tradition. I liked the idea but I wanted (to make the good-fortune message) in your own handwriting.”

Ono’s work, with its roots in the process-minded Fluxus movement in New York in the early ’60s, has generally avoided the production of objects in favour of exposure of these ideas.

“I know, even now people say I am naive,” she says. Her work “seems to bring out the hatred in some people. But I am a rebel. From the start I didn’t like the idea that artists had to have such (big) egos that they had to create something that would last an eternity. I went against that (idea). It wasn’t my thing.”

Her role models in this regard were composers John Cage and Toshi Ichiyanagi, her first husband, as well as avant-garde impresario La Monte Young and artists Larry Poon and Jim Dine. They all hung out at Ono’s studio at 112 Chambers St. in New York.

Cage’s most famous piece – four minutes and 33 seconds of silence “performed” by a non-playing pianist sitting still before a concert crowd – provided a signpost for Ono and the rest of Fluxus to follow. Indeed, it led to her Ceiling Painting, created by Ono in 1966 for the Indica Gallery in London, where she first met Lennon.

Climbing up a ladder, Lennon peered through a magnifying glass to read the word “yes” printed neatly on the ceiling. The work subsequently provided the title for her retrospective, “Yes Yoko Ono,” at the Art Gallery of Ontario six years ago.

Ironically, one of her current projects is to revive interest in Lennon’s career as an artist, cut short by his decision to play in a rock ‘n’ roll band with a silly name.

“I’d always wanted John to do a show,” Ono tells me, “but he was always being treated as a pop star, not as a painter.”

In recent years, a number of Lennon’s acerbic sketches have appeared in galleries, with Ono turning up at openings to help the cause. The next Lennon show could be of 10 or so of his previously unknown watercolours, done in one afternoon while the couple were on vacation at a Japanese resort.

“I have no intention of making any copies (of them) or of selling them,” Ono says. “At this point, I just want to do a show.”

by Peter Goddard, The Star

 

Zone C deserves an ‘A’ for astonishment

Zone C was home to some of Nuit Blanche’s most impressive exhibits, filled with pieces whose content spanned various emotional and conceptual spectrums.  Michel de Broin’s Overflow, a waterfall pouring out of an apartment building window, was one of the most extraordinary sights of the long, long night while Jon Sasaki’s performance piece, I Promise It Will Always Be This Way, featured costumed mascots that worked up the crowd and then unwound in a variety of ways. Music continuously reflected the atmosphere, filling the stadium and changing based on the mascot’s actions and the dwindling of the crowd. The ritualistic SMASH! Droppin’ Stuff was a fantastic display of various objects being hurled from high up and falling to their doom. Accompanied by audio and a projection, The Custodians of Destruction lived up to their name and celebrated the disregard for the objects involved.

The highlight of Zone C for me was Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace. The exhibit featured a “wish tree,” and the intent was for visitors to write down their wishes and tie them to its branches. By 6:30 in the morning, there were several trees and even other objects (like a fire hydrant) that had hundreds of wishes tied to them, ranging from the universal “I wish for peace” to vanity-inspired pleas like “please get rid of her backne, she feels bad about it.”

What I noticed was a surprising amount of wishes that, if not for the good of society or the world as a whole, were for people other than the writer himself, such as the “backne” wish. It seemed that Ono’s desire to create collective-based thinking succeeded, as there was a sense of community inherent in the wishes contained in the exhibit – a sense not experienced in the majority of the other Nuit Blanche exhibits (except, perhaps, Zombies in Condoland from Zone A). The second part of Ono’s piece was a gigantic billboard that simply read “IMAGINE PEACE.” This, of course, is a continuation of the attempt that Ono and John Lennon made in the ’60s and ’70s to “sell” peace to the public. The idea behind it is and always has been a simple one: that in order to achieve peace, we must first be able to fathom it.
 
Given our past and our present, it is quite difficult for most people to imagine or believe that there could ever be peace in the future, but Lennon and Ono have always maintained
that if people could conceive of a peaceful world – even see it as they would an enticing product – then it would become a very possible outcome. With that in mind, the easy-to-read, all-white billboard with black text creates not only familiarity with the “War is Over” boards, but also remains a simple and effective way to advertise peace. Zone C certainly seemed to be home to some of the more “out there” exhibits. This is not to imply a lack of creativity in the other zones, as the entire city had some wonderful ideas on display (for example, City Hall), but something about mascots running around, throwing stuff to a bitter demise from a high altitude and a wishing tree definitely appealed to my sense of wonder.

By Nick Pascuzzi, Excalibur

 

YOKO ONO BRINGS STAR POWER TO NUIT BLANCHE

Nuit BlancheYoko Ono’s rehabilitation from Beatles-buster to revered artist is now so thorough that no contemporary art season feels complete without some inclusion of her work or reference to her abiding influence. Just check out her work at Nuit Blanche tonight (even though she won’t be on hand herself).

For the event, Ono’s Imagine Peace billboard in Liberty Village harks back to her “War is Over!” campaign waged in 12 cities with Lennon in the late 1960s. Much derided at the time for their simple-mindedness, the billboards – along with the couple’s bed-ins in Toronto and elsewhere – are now viewed as cornerstones in Ono’s emerging “utopian social program,” so called by a number of critics.

Ono’s Wish Tree installation is another Nuit Blanche intervention, along with the distribution of 40,000 “Imagine Peace” buttons during the night at the southeast corner of Lamport Stadium, in Liberty Village. With Wish Tree, passersby can write a hopeful phrase on a tiny piece of paper, which can be affixed to a nearby tree. It’s an installation she has staged previously.

by Peter Goddard, Toronto Star.

Nuit Blanche here

.     

IMAGINE PEACE AT TORONTO’S NUITE BLANCHE

Yoko Ono’s IMAGINE PEACE project is coming to Toronto for the first time this fall as part of Nuit Blanche, the annual all-night festival of contemporary art that runs from sunset Sat 4th Oct to sunrise Sun 5th Oct, involving dozens of international artists.
Thousands of Nuit Blanche visitors will tie their wishes for the world to Ono’s Wish Trees near Lamport Stadium (map). 
After the festival, the wishes will be gathered by the artist and stored as part of the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER in Iceland.
A large IMAGINE PEACE billboard will be erected [corner of Liberty St. and Jefferson Ave.] and 40,000 IMAGINE PEACE buttons will be given to Nuit Blanche participants.
More hereWebsite.

 

Nuite Blanche
Nuit Blanche
IMAGINE PEACE billboard & Wish Trees

Zone C
Corner of Liberty St. and Jefferson Ave., Toronto, Canada
4 Oct 2008: sunset to sunrise the next day.

 

Yoko Ono: IMAGINE PEACE2001

Yoko Ono – New York, USA

Installation, Visual Art

Yoko Ono has often remarked that all of her work is a form of wishing. For “Wish Tree”, participants are invited to write a wish on a piece of paper and tie it to the branch of a tree, as a form of collective secular prayer. The resulting mass of wishes resembles white flowers blossoming from afar. 

The “Imagine Peace” billboard continues the advertising strategy of the “War is Over!” campaign that Ono and Lennon waged in the late sixties and early seventies. The language is both softened and more direct, but the implication of our complicity remains – peace will continue to elude us if we are unable to even fathom its existence. 

Forty-thousand buttons adorned with the phrase will also be distributed to visitors over the course of the evening.

www.imaginepeace.com

Suitable for all ages

Corner of Liberty St. and Jefferson Ave.

416-338-0338

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2008-10-26T19:23:42+00:00 October 4th, 2008|Events & Exhibitions|