I wonder if Yoko Ono...
March 26, 2009 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Yoko Ono's flickr page has a ton of gems, some of which combine illustrations from the John Lennon Anthology with first-hand accounts of their relationship by Yoko: Introduction, Ascot, New York City, The Lost Weekend, Dakota. [via].
posted by lunit (27 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I love her., despite what Beatles fans have said for years. She has an interesting Twitter page and blog as well.
posted by Brittanie at 11:20 AM on March 26, 2009

Awesome. Thanks.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:21 AM on March 26, 2009

I have been fascinated with The Beatles as far back as I can remember and I love Yoko Ono's artwork. Years and years ago I saw a great show of hers.
posted by Kattullus at 11:22 AM on March 26, 2009

She's fabulous. I caught this yesterday on Twitter and when I clicked, I was really amazed by the stories, which were really unexpected.

I can't say I agree with all the ways she's chosen to license John Lennon's work (although I really did like those White Cloud diapers with his artwork on them, they were good diapers! And cheap!), but in general she seems to be really respectful of both John's memory and of his fans' need to stay connected with him after all these years.

Also, I met her son once in passing and he was incredibly polite and had a real knack for making small talk seem as though he was genuinely interested in the people who wanted to meet him, and she gets major credit for that from me. He could easily have been a total celebutard.
posted by padraigin at 11:29 AM on March 26, 2009

Wow, if you can read this and still slag on Yoko, congrats. Instant karma's going to get you.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:39 AM on March 26, 2009 [7 favorites]

I loved seeing the reverential and totally misguided (IMHO) way her art was presented at the SF MOMA a few years back. A lot of what she did seemed to me to involve engaging with the viewer and playing with the notion of how you interact with art. "Puns" on how you view art - like the ladder with the tiny little text on the ceiling you had to read.

At the MOMA, the ladder was carefully fenced off - you certainly weren't allowed to climb up such an important piece of art history! Or to play with the "processed" chess sets, etc.

I can understand the archival concerns I guess - but it amused me. It seemed like it would be truer to the piece to buy a ladder from a hardware store that people *could* climb up, and recreate the intent and experience of the piece, rather than have the actual ladder as this treasured bit of "Art" you couldn't interact with.

But in its way, this amusement and confusion about how art becomes Art and objects become Artifacts was as or more interesting to me than the original piece - so maybe that was exactly the right choice by the curators. Anyhow.
posted by freebird at 11:53 AM on March 26, 2009 [6 favorites]

Wow, those essays are amazing. What a wise and honest voice.

What a love. What a loss.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:02 PM on March 26, 2009

A lot of what she did seemed to me to involve engaging with the viewer and playing with the notion of how you interact with art.

She has or had a piece at the Tate Modern that was ostensibly a display of postcard surveys that had been sent to random people asking them to draw a circle and answer questions about it. Next to the display on the wall was a plain old wall phone, presumably for use by security or something. But the second layer of the piece was that Yoko called the phone once every day for a while and talked to whomever happened to answer it. I thought it was fantastic, even though she had stopped calling it regularly by the time I saw it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:20 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]

It always seems to me like Björk is a cheap rip-off of Yoko Ono in terms of "totally weird." Yoko Ono is the pinnacle of using weirdness for awesome.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:30 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

"A lot of what she did seemed to me to involve engaging with the viewer and playing with the notion of how you interact with art."

Yep, that's Fluxus.

I always have conflicted feelings about Yoko Ono. On the one hand, she's constantly treated unfairly by Beatles fans, and a lot of her art is really great stuff. Then, on the other, there's that her treatment of the Lennon legacy and especially Julian, is incredibly self-centered and mercenary, and he work has largely been superseded by becoming that guardian of his memory. She's made a couple interesting pieces since the early '80s (really, since the mid-'70s), but nothing to justify the fame and position she enjoys.
posted by klangklangston at 12:41 PM on March 26, 2009

Oh, and over the holidays, the SF MOMA had a lot of that work back for a show about audience participation, and you could interact with almost all of it (I didn't see the ladder piece, but there were big enough crowds around most of the Ono stuff that I didn't feel like fighting in to see if it was there.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:43 PM on March 26, 2009

Yoko Ono's flickr page has a ton of gems,

I first read this as "a ton of germs."
posted by turducken at 1:35 PM on March 26, 2009

I've always regretted skipping out on her set at Arthurfest in LA a few years ago. I heard aferwards that she totally killed.
posted by anazgnos at 1:56 PM on March 26, 2009

I always respected Lennon for falling in love with someone who was so much more interesting than the big blond super models that rock stars usually go for.
posted by octothorpe at 3:38 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yoko Ono? Aww, she ruined the Plastic Ono Band.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:52 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ono is an interesting artist, I'll grant that. But the hate she gets from Beatles fans isn't wholly unwarranted. Sure, it was John's fault that she attended recording sessions, making an already tense creative atmosphere even more so, sparking arguments and discouraging intimacy between John and the others. But a more modest person would have understood the stakes and sat in the lobby. In archival tapes, you can hear her piping up during the Get Back sessions. She's frequently exasperating and sometimes out of line. She doesn't come across as a likable person. Then again, that was nearly 30 years ago.
posted by Greenie at 5:42 PM on March 26, 2009

You are quite right, Greenie. Hey it's fine if she and John were in love. But to me there's no disputing it. She was the reason they broke up.. now it was bound to happen sooner or later, but we will never ever know if they had been able to work things out, or maybe they would have taken a break and come back together some other time. She was an evil wretch during those sessions, and all the times John would invite her onstage to literally scream into a microphone kinda tried everyone's patience. And.. is there anyone else out there besides me who wishes Yoko would fucking push her glasses back up? They're constantly on the tip of her nose.. why the fuck does she even bother? hehe
posted by ChickenringNYC at 11:35 PM on March 26, 2009

So even though Lennon invited her into the sessions, she should have sat out in the lobby? Wouldn't that just have pissed him off? And then all of his fans could bitch about how she wasn't supportive of him, how she refused him help when he asked for it. She can't win - whatever choice she'd made, someone would have had a whine about it.

The Beatles would never have been able to stay together, and thinking that it all might have worked out in the end is just wishful thinking. It was a power struggle between huge personalities used to getting their own way, not just a "oh, I'd like to do something a bit different, musically, I'll catch you guys later" kind of thing.

Last time there was a Beatles discussion on the blue, You Can't Tip a Buick posted this great article about the extreme hatred of Yoko Ono. As the author points out, Lennon himself said that anyone who hated Ono didn't have his best interests at heart.
posted by harriet vane at 2:27 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I take my que regarding Ms. Ono from her late husband. I am deeply curious about her, and wonder about the awesomeness that so delighted John. And that apart from the ordinary curiosity one might have about a celebrity.
posted by Goofyy at 5:38 AM on March 27, 2009

I recently enjoyed this fascinating and well-researched series of posts about Yoko Ono as a feminist issue: start here, with the intro, and scroll down for links to the next parts of the series. It's heartbreaking at points and very interesting throughout. I knew about many of these issues in the abstract, but some of the things people said about and to her are appalling. I definitely gave up my HURF DURF BEATLES DESTROYER attitude for good.

Yoko apparently found the posts and emailed the blogger about them, saying they were "close to the truth."

On preview, this is the same link that harriet vane mentioned above.
posted by librarina at 7:35 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm not making an argument that she broke up the Beatles, just that she wasn't an attractive character in the Fab Four drama. Beatles fans - even Lennon fans - who pay attention to her impact at the time have a hard time feeling sympathetic toward her.

As for John's choices, Lennon was half out of his mind in 1969. I say that as a huge a fan.
posted by Greenie at 9:00 AM on March 27, 2009

Great post, and interesting thread, by the way!
posted by Greenie at 9:02 AM on March 27, 2009

BTW for those who want an inside look at the Fabs' breakup, there's no better resource than Doug Sulpy's book, Drugs, Divorce, and a Slipping Image. It's a detailed account/analysis of all the film soundtrack reels recorded for the Let It Be film - basically a month of full-time sessions captured on tape, including discussions, arguments, lunchtimes, and endless tuning.
posted by Greenie at 9:12 AM on March 27, 2009

Oh...The Lost Weekend is just heartbreaking. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to be her. Imagine loving someone so much you're willing to let the entire world hate you.
posted by dejah420 at 2:57 PM on March 27, 2009

Librarina, I'm more annoyed that John Lennon seems to have ruined (well, not really, been detrimental) to Ono's artwork.
posted by klangklangston at 6:03 PM on March 27, 2009

Freebird, these issues are ones that engender deep conflicts in the curatorial world, and there are good reasons for falling on either side of the divide. When I worked on Out of Actions, a MOCA show that was largely concerned with how to exhibit the objects that were used in, and altered by--or simply empowered by--performances, after many long debates we chose to recreate certain pieces with the permission of the artists. These included a blank slab of wood which became an authenticated version of Yoko's "Painting To Hammer A Nail In" as the public followed her instructions under the guards' watchful gaze, but also a number of objects that were treated like relics, since they were the actual items used in influential performative works. I seem to recall it was around this time that MOCA discovered that Yoko had personally registered the moca.org URL, which seemed a very clever way of ensuring she was happy with how her work was treated... only on searching just now to find a link backing that up, it appears she was not actually the culprit. That was the story going 'round the museum, anyway, and like all of our dealings with the lady, it left her looking very sharp indeed.
posted by Scram at 8:44 PM on March 28, 2009

Here's another: Feeling the Space.
posted by lunit at 9:33 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

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