Yoko Ono’s latest major exhibit, To The Light, on display at the Serpentine Gallery in London, demonstrates her desire for viewer interaction with her art. The exhibit consists of installations, films, performances and archive material all supporting Ono’s place in history as an important contemporary artist.
Identifying herself as an artist, film-maker, poet, musician, writer, performance artist and peace activist, Ono’s incredible career began over 50 years ago. Unafraid to try new things, Ono strives to push the envelope by constantly experimenting with new materials and media to deliver thought-provoking art to a wide audience. A true art pioneer, Ono’s work has been exhibited and performed all around the world.
Ono’s work as an artist, musician and performer began at a very young age. She and her work were catapulted into the spotlight after her marriage to musician John Lennon. As a part of the public eye, Ono’s work was heavily criticized by mainstream audiences for being too abstract. For example, during one period Ono worked exclusively with the color white, which she believed allowed viewers to picture the piece with whatever color they had in mind. One painting, titled Blue Room, didn’t have a drop of blue within it. Ono famously conducted Bed-ins for Peace with Lennon, with one installation leading to the writing of the hit song “Give Peace A Chance.” As a musician, Ono has had eight number one dance singles on the U.S. Billboard Dance Chart since 2000; her work has been remixed by Basement Jaxx and the Pet Shop Boys, among others.
A new installation prepared especially for the Serpentine Gallery encourages viewers to follow instructions to physically or mentally complete the installation. Another large-scale piece, AMAZE, asks viewers to become part of the piece, which includes allowing other viewers to observe them.
In addition to the To The Light exhibition, Ono’s multimedia initiative, #smilesfilm, is also presented. Ono’s #smilesfilm project asks people from all over the world to participate by photographing their smile, uploading the picture and sending it to Ono with the hash-tag #smilesfilm. Her objective is to create a string of smiles that spans the globe.
While #smilesfilm started as a germ of an idea in the late 1960s, Ono hopes to one day capture the smiles of every person in the world. Ono’s hope for the project is to promote positive energy, healing and peace through the power of a smile.
At the Serpentine Gallery, viewers can participate in #smilesfilm directly onsite via an interactive photo booth.
Installation view, Yoko Ono: TO THE LIGHT
Serpentine Gallery, London
(19 June – 9 September 2012)
© 2012 Jerry Hardman-Jones