The Instructions of Yoko Ono / The Art of John and Yoko
GROWING FREEDOM: The instructions of Yoko Ono and The art of John and Yoko underscores the cornerstones of action, participation and imagination in the work of Yoko Ono (b. 1933) and examines the collaborative works she undertook with her late husband John Lennon (1940–1980). A visionary, pioneering artist with a career that now spans more than 50 years, Ono created a new kind of relationship with spectators and fellow artists, inviting them to play an active part in the creative process.
This major exhibition is organized in two parts. The first section focuses on Ono’s instruction works, which break down barriers between artistic disciplines and emphasize Ono’s radical approach to visual art. By inviting the viewer to partake in the artistic process, she not only creates works that continue to grow and change but also thwarts the conventions of the art market. Exhibited works include instructional pieces that require the visitor to complete the work, through actions such as mending broken china (MEND PIECE, 1966), hammering nails into canvas (PAINTING TO HAMMER A NAIL, 1966) and writing their feelings toward their mothers on a sticky note and attaching it to the gallery wall (MY MOMMY IS BEAUTIFUL, 1997). Other works solicit participation from outside the institution, including ARISING (2013) and WATER EVENT (1971), which will feature the participation of local Indigenous artists.
The second part of the exhibition presents an arc of collaborative projects for peace undertaken by Ono and Lennon. Among these are the WAR IS OVER (If you want it) peace campaign (1969) and the BED-INS FOR PEACE (1969). Through an approach that spotlights storytelling and privileges listening, this section of GROWING FREEDOM also features the stories of various people who participated in Ono and Lennon’s art projects, told in their own voices and words.
Through a select survey of instructions and performance pieces, the exhibition imparts Ono’s massive impact on contemporary art practices and her ongoing activism through art. The urgency and spirit of the exhibited artworks are perhaps more pertinent and important than ever.
Organized by the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, and presented in collaboration with the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Gunnar B. Kvaran and Cheryl Sim