Saturday, September 5, 2015

Yoko Ono | The Museum of Modern [F]Art

Yoko Ono
The Museum of Modern [F]Art
New York City, USA: Self-published, 1971
106 pp., 30 x 30 x 1 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

From her early days as an artist, right through to the present, Yoko Ono has appropriated advertising space for her work. Early scores were printed in the magazine Art & Artists in the mid-sixties, she and Lennon waged the War is Over campaign on large billboards in the early seventies, and recent full page ads in the New York Times blur the lines between artwork and activism: protesting Fracking or simply asking the reader to "Imagine Peace".

In 1971, she used the technique to advertise a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, which she executed without participation from the museum. Ads were placed in the Village Voice and Artforum, announcing a "one woman show" taking place from the 5th of December to the 15th. The ads featured Ono walking in front of the museum, carrying a large letter F, suggesting a venue rename.

The ads did double duty: they also served as an order form for the catalogue produced to accompany the 'show'. The premise of the exhibition is that Ono had released a jar full of flies scented with her perfume. Visitors were asked to track them down and report back. The self-published catalogue documented their 'sightings'.

Forty-four years later MoMA is now hosting the exhibition Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, which takes its inspiration from the earlier conceptual show. The survey covers eleven years - beginning with Ono's earliest works, and ending in 1971. The retrospective includes objects, works on paper, installations, performances, audio recordings, and films, and rarely seen archival materials. There are 125 works included, many of them coming from the 2008 acquisition of the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection, which included approximately 100 artworks and related ephemera by Ono.

"The incredible thing about this MoMA show is that in ’71 I staged my “first” show at MoMA from December 1st to the 15th. In those days the museum hardly presented women or Asian artists. Nobody thought much about it. I put an advertisement in the Village Voice for my “one woman show” at the museum. I also printed a catalogue titled the Museum of Modern (F)art. And I posted a sign on the museum’s entrance that said I had released flies in the museum, and that everyone was invited to find them throughout the city. What was great was that MoMA came to me recently and said they were interested in “my show” that I did there ’71. They said that wanted to do it now, as a real exhibition."

- Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show closes tomorrow, Sunday September 6th. The Museum of Modern [F]Art catalogue is only available on Amazon or ABE from one seller, and it is listed at a thousand dollars, despite the completely stained cover.

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