By Betwa Sharma
Posting in Cities
DELHI -- With wish trees to bare bottoms, Yoko Ono brings her art and activism to the city.
DELHI -- Last year, India found out that its girls had reduced to 914 for every 1000 boys due to rise in sex-selective abortions. In 2001, the girls were 927. Regarded as financial and social burdens, thousands of girls are also killed after being born.
“Our Beautiful Daughters,” Yoko’s first exhibition in India organized by the Vadehra Art Gallery, confronts this crisis. An installation of casts of women’s bodies fill up a large room. They lie like mummies, haunting and compelling, in dim light. Viewers can touch the figures of different shapes and sizes. Parul Vadehra, the curator, says this piece “urges audiences to revitalize and rethink a personal connection with the contemporary conditions experienced by women."
Vadehra describes Yoko, who just turned 79, as an artist “located between East and West, between activism and art.” “Our goal is to be a vibrant art institution that brings audiences here in contact with the best of contemporary art from within and outside India,” she says.
Indian craftswomen from the organization Rangsutra have embroidered covers for the women. They were asked by the artist to “Cover our Beautiful Daughters with your embroidery of a blue sky of your memory.” In the night, the covers are placed over the casts.
The entrance to Yoko’s exhibition in Delhi is lined with “wish trees.” On white cards, folks have scribbled a continuum of thoughts from world peace to good wishes for their moms. These cards are tied to branches of green potted plants with a string.
Keeping true to Yoko’s penchant for audience participation, the exhibition also revisits her Mend Piece, first shown in 1966 in London. The audience sees bits of broken ceramic pottery laid out on the table like a jigsaw puzzle. Mending the objects is akin to performing the therapeutic act of healing by “making whole.”
Still, several Indians fail to see Yoko’s relevance to the country. “Who is she to even make news of any significance which would matter to any one? Her only credential is that she is married one of the Beatles 40 some years ago and he was killed by a crazy man in New York,” writes one commenter on the website of a prominent national daily.
Anticipating unfamiliarity with Yoko’s art and activism, the gallery also presents a parallel exhibition called “Seeds,” which showcases her work spanning five decades. It provides a context to view her newer work. There is a black-and-white video, for instance, of her “Cut Piece” performed in New York in 1965. She invites members of the audience to remove any piece of cloth from her dress. When performing this in Paris in 2003, Yoko said, “When I first performed this work in 1964, I did it with some anger and turbulence in my heart. This time I do it with love for you, for me and for the world.”
“Come and cut a piece of my clothing wherever you like the size of less than a postcard and send it to the one you love.”
In another room, there are posters from the “War is over! (if you want it)” advertising campaign done in collaboration with John Lennon during the "Bed-in for Peace" event in 1969. Among previous works is also the 1966 film that features tight frames of buttocks. People speak about their experiences being filmed walking bare-bottomed. Yoko has written that the "1960s was not only an age of achievements, but of laughter." She described the video as "like an aimless petition signed by people with their anuses."
Photos by Briana Blasko for Yoko Ono. Courtesy Vadehra Art Gallery.
Feb 23, 2012
Yoko Ono has stood for causes. Often there is a message. Technology and innovation is needed to improve the planet, and many times the context of a presentation or exhibition is social where creativity and technology combine. Technology is used effectively in social documentaries on film and other forms of outreach to attract attention. The approach to smartplanet has to be broadbased where innovativeness acknowledges different talents and efforts to smarten the planet from the point of view of justness and the right thing to do. .
Le bonheur de rentrer, de se mettre ?? table peut dire quelque chose de citoyen, l'affection que l'on porte pour l'avenir
It is good for Yoko Ono's exhibition to feature in smartplanet and it is even better if a social issue gets highlighted. In any case, art and creativity is smartening up. Like Bollywood technologies are becoming smarter. Someone like Beatle George Harrison thought, many years ago, that the sitar as a music instrument was smart for the west. It led to so much fusion of thought and the rhythm of life and music has become smarter which is good for the planet.
Hey! i thought it was a creative way of portraying the the social problem of India's missing girls...here it can be a tired conversation sometimes...also isn't art supposed to make us smarter...a bit!
But this is a foreign dispatch. And I don't know about you, but I learned a little bit about the cultural affects of India's modernization (Westernization?) after reading this. Still, it raises the question: did you like this article? We're very interested in looking at new ways to approach what we do; it's good to know if you think it detracts from the conversation.