Friday, January 24, 2014

Yoko Ono exhibit at the MCA: War is Over!

Yoko Ono, what is there to say that hasn't been said before?

Much maligned and a divider of opinions, people either love her or hate her.

I fell into the later group for many years, but I saw an interview with her around 10 years ago. Her love for Lennon and the deep sadness over his loss was palpable and as if it had happened yesterday. I decided it was wrong to hate her, and when Paul McCartney 'forgave' her a few years later I knew I had made the right choice.

I will say upfront, I don't care for her music, but I love her art and her philosophy.

She is a little bit kooky, but the best people always are!

And it was her art and philosophy that was on display at the MCA.

I had not been to the MCA since the renovations, so A and I walked into the new entrance and went up large stairs that said 'WAR IS OVER! If you want it YOKO ONO'.

It was exciting, then we made out way to the 4th floor and the exhibit.

Inside were two screens, one playing her Cut Piece film from 1964 and the other, an updated version from 2003. In the earlier, she is young and seemingly vulnerable, the later one, older, wiser and quite formidable. Even though I had seen it before, it was fascinating to watch.

Beyond that was an area with many chess sets in white for anyone to interact with. This installation dates back to 1966 and the theory is once you being playing it is difficult to work out which piece belongs to which player and competition stalls.

Through that room was another of found family objects including what I guess are a pair of Lennon's glasses. I am unsure whether they were THE glasses, but given all the pieces were covered in a bloody red/brown pigment it was rather powerful. It sent shivers down my spine and brought a tear to my eye.

The other side was a room with posters, books, ipads with music, screens with moving images. Whilst in there listening to Double Fantasy on the ipad, they showed a clip of Yoko accepting a Grammy in 1981 for the same album when it won album of the year. I think I had seen the clip before, but such power and emotion, it was a lot to take in.

Many more pieces of found art and photos were displayed along a corridor before more interactive pieces.

Luggage and wire trunks were either side of a lovely writing table with pencils and pieces of paper. You could write where you wished to go and add it to the trunk.

Then a long and very full wall dedicated to mothers, again you were encouraged to write a note to your mother and add it to the wall.

At the end of the corridor was an installation of upturned war helmets, with pieces of peace jigsaws in them. The pieces of peace were blue skies with drifting clouds, an ongoing motif in her work, you were encouraged to take a piece with you to help build a new sky for the future!
Beyond that some amazing bronze pieces, including Endangered Species 2319-2322, I was really attracted to the beauty and melancholy of this.

Then double back to the peace wall, a wall of maps of the world and various places within it. A table was nearby with stamps in a jar. the stamps had IMAGINE PEACE on them in many different languages and you could put your stamp of peace on the world.

She also had a collection of pencil etchings, they were very eye catching.

The most remarkable piece is hard to describe, and will sound odd no matter how I do describe it. It was a room with a painted wall of Japanese calligraphy, and doors seemingly suspended filled the room at surreal angles. Each door had small handwritten messages of peace and love if you looked closely enough. 

The wall opposite the calligraphy had a long ledge with bottles of water filled all at the same level. On each bottle was a hand written label. On the label the name of someone famous (or infamous) who had died. The theory is we are all reduced to water and thus all the same. I was really drawn to this room and didn't want to leave, it is difficult to describe.

The love and peace and world views of Yoko are inherent in every piece, there was of course much more than I have described. The range in style and time periods she has been creating in was remarkable.

I felt very lucky to have seen the exhibit, it is difficult to explain how powerful it is, but it's a must see if you are in Sydney.

And don't forget to go up to the MCA roof and see the wishing trees Yoko donated, add your wish, and have a look at the amazing views of the harbour.

No comments: