Sunday, November 6, 2016

Guest Post: Juliane Foronda on Yoko Ono's ONE MORE STORY at the Reykjavík Art Museum

Yoko Ono, ONE MORE STORY at the Reykjavík Art Museum

On & On (& On & On)

On time and timing

I don’t know if it’s serendipity or just naïve of me to think that the 10th anniversary lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower and the opening of Yoko Ono’s ONE MORE STORY happen to coincide with my recent move to Iceland. There is a sense of comfort that comes with time, and the more time that I spend with her work, the more it begins to feel like seeing an old friend. I continuously find myself revisiting her works for this reason, and I could keep going back to this show to watch it evolve. The walls will slowly fill up with marks and messages from those who pass through, bins of buttons will be emptied as visitors take a piece of the show away with them, and the branches of the Wish Trees in the hallway will be covered with our deepest desires and dreams. While her work is timeless, it ages in the most beautiful way.

On words and language

There were several pieces where Yoko asked for people to share a memory in their native language. Next to the MY MOMMY IS BEAUTIFUL buttons were instructions to leave behind a childhood memory of your mother in celebration of maternal love that we experience at all stages of our lives. Some weeks prior to the opening of this show, Yoko sent out an open call for all women to participate in ARISING. The entryway of the gallery space was covered with stories and photographs sent from women all over the world. Passages from Grapefruit were translated into Icelandic and pinned along a wall. Yoko has this way of transcending any barriers of language or otherwise. While I couldn’t understand all of the words, I took away the feeling behind them. Her work surpasses the need for verbal communication even though many of them are recorded and offered as a written instruction.

On intimacy and sharing

While most of the instructions are to be followed individually, it was evident that each act contributed to a larger collective action. Visitors were given the chance to mend broken dishes with tape, strings, glue and elastics in Mend Piece. Some worked together while others worked alone, but they all ended up on the same shelf. Her work is generous in its willingness to share. Being the sentimental, homesick and overall disoriented person that I am right now, I was filled with a sense of comfort by getting to stamp some peace over my hometown, as well as a few other places that I hold closest to my heart. IMAGINE PEACE pins were also available in various languages for visitors to take with them so that they could literally carry away the reminder to hope and to dream. I love it when exhibitions have takeaways that don’t end up forgotten and lost in the bottom of my tote bag. “Take a piece of the sky. Know that we are all part of each other” I left the show with my mind, heart and pockets feeling extremely full.

On tears and laughter

Yoko asked Ragnar Kjartansson (as well as several other Icelandic artists) to make a work that dealt with water in dedication to her. He responded to her request with a cheeky Simpson’s reference from an episode where Ono visited Moe’s Tavern and ordered a single plum floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat. I couldn’t help but smirk as I navigated through the museum. Yoko welcomes humour in unexpected ways and consistently surpasses herself in a way that is humble, honest and unassuming. As much as Yoko helps us laugh, she also reminded everyone about the importance of crying in the words she shared when lighting the Imagine Peace Tower: “We need to remember that it is okay to cry. Thank you for letting me cry with you. I love you!”

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