Yoko Ono (b. 1933) is a visionary, pioneering artist with a career that now spans over fifty years. During the 1950s in Tokyo, she introduced original questions concerning the concept of art and the art object, breaking down the traditional boundaries between branches of art. She has been associated with Conceptual art, performance, Fluxus, and happenings of the 1960s, and is one of very few women to have participated in these movements. Through her works of instructions and performances, as well as her activism, she has created a new kind of relationship with spectators in general and fellow artists, including her late husband John Lennon, inviting them to play an active part in the creative process. She also brings together two cultures – Eastern and Western – which extend and strengthen each other in continuous innovation.
This major exhibition in two parts will underscore the cornerstones of action, participation, and imagination in the work of Yoko Ono. Taking place in both of the Fondation’s buildings, the first part, The instructions of Yoko Ono will focus on her ‘instruction’ works that emphasize the role of the visitor in their completion. Among works to be presented are text–based instructions such as Lighting Piece (1955), as well as participatory works including Mending Piece (1966), Horizontal Memories(1997), and Arising (2013). Also included is Water Event (1971/2016), which will invite the participation of 12 artists from Montreal and other parts of Canada.
The second part of the exhibition, The art of John and Yoko will present the arc of collaborative art projects for peace undertaken by Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Among these is the Acorn project, the War is Over peace campaign, and the Montreal bed-in, which will mark its fifty-year anniversary on May 26, 2019. Through an approach that spotlights storytelling, this part of the exhibition will feature a variety of stories from people who participated in the bed-in, told in their own voices and words. These often moving accounts testify to the impact of what became a legendary and historic event, one which remains a key reference for the indivisibility of art and life, as well as the importance of non-violent action to inspire political and social change.
Ultimately, this exhibition wishes to impart Yoko Ono’s massive impact on contemporary art practices, on art reception, and on activism through art. The urgency and spirit of her work remain pertinent and perhaps more important than ever.
Curated by Gunnar B. Kvaran and Cheryl Sim
Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain
451 & 465 Saint-Jean Street
Montreal QC H2Y 2R5