Madeline

Friday, February 03, 2017

APPROXIMATELY 

INFINITE  

TWITTERVERSE


By Madeline Bocaro








Birds communicate with each other. 
It's not singing. It's their language. 
It's so beautiful and different from ours. – y.o.

In this incredible new age, when we should be using our voices to sing out, negativity abounds. If only we could communicate positively, like free twittering birds.

Yoko’s biography begins, born: bird year. She once said, “If I had to be reincarnated as an animal, I would choose a sparrow.” Birdsong was Yoko’s first inspiration. As a young child, one of her school assignments was to translate the sounds of a symphony of birds into musical notation. She realized that it was impossible. At first, Yoko thought it was her own shortcoming. She soon determined that there was a limitation in the way that we scored music – which lost its intricate beauty. This is the frustration behind all of Yoko’s work: the material world cannot replicate the purity of an idea. To solve this problem, Yoko’s scores combine musical notation with instructions.

“I loved listening to the birds singing in the morning. Beautiful complicated sounds a bird can make which you can’t copy – it seemed so perfect and I thought, ‘Why try to do something like that when a bird can do it effortlessly? So I began to compose music which wasn’t complete – with instructions like: This should be played with birds singing in the garden’. From there I began to question the whole thing of composition and instruction.” - y.o. Vogue December 1971

In a recent Instagram posting, Yoko wrote, "A bird was chirping in a corner of the restaurant. I kept listening to it for a while, hoping I could figure out what the bird was saying. Finally, I gave up and said, 'thank you!'"

Small bursts of thought-provoking wisdom come in very few forms. The oldest must be the Zen koan and Haiku. There are those found inside fortune cookies. And then, there are the incantations of Yoko Ono's wise, whimsical and enlightening Twitter account -  inspiring inner peace, clarity and revelations in 140 characters or less.

Yoko has been my spirit guide since the 1960s - imparting her infinite blessings. It's so nice that the world is now tuned in, receiving her daily wisdom.

Here are some of my favorite Yoko Tweets. Please heed them. They will heal you. You will see your life and the universe in a whole new light. Yoko is just planting the seeds in your mind…









Look at life in nature. Budding branches. A shining river.
The light that shines on everything shines on you, too.


Why am I fascinated by clouds?
Because they are a transient existence.
No cloud can cloud us forever.

Equality should not be forced. Everybody desires something different. Just give people the freedom to be equal, if they want it.


Problem? Start with feeling love for the problem. You will then know what step you wish to take.


Advice to follow: Don't follow.


What's the difference between today and in the 60s?
That we are all younger now.










Science Fiction is a history of the future.


The present moment can be an eternity in time.
History can be a blip in your memory.
I don't separate the two.


Silence is a sound.


If I had a 1 hour TV special, I would show the world what is really happening.
But the ratings would be so low, I'd be fired immediately.









All decisions are easy to make.
All decisions are difficult to make.
It depends on your outlook.


I never collected anything except sea shells & pebbles. Because they were pretty. I lost them because they were too cumbersome to hold on to.

I like old Indian & Gypsy music with vocals of people who have travelled far in life taking me to mountains and oceans I have never been to.


I often try fasting. It's good for your health.


Your greatest strength is believing in yourself.
Your greatest weakness is not believing in yourself.


I very rarely dream. I am always wide awake even when I am asleep.


My favourite sounds in the world are all cooing sounds – of animals, people, green fields and winds…


Women are still not equal to men. But do we want to be equal to them?
I think it is better to pursue higher.









Don't get rid of negative emotion, but just use it… like the salt in your food.


Listen to the heartbeat of all things on the planet. It is symphonic.
The primal heartbeat is that of the ocean.


Be calm to attract calm.


Everything is shining in our lives, if you care to see it.


Common sense prevents you from thinking.
Have less sense and you will make more sense.


Silence is the highest form of expression.


Being outsider is actually a more powerful position than center of things.
Observe from clearer perspective.


The child in you will save you.







You’re not blocked.
You’re just playing the game of pretending to yourself that you are blocked.
Get off your high horse now, my friend.


Art is what you give to people. Your work will suffer in its creativity if you are thinking of making something that will sell.


If you think we are subjected to any pattern, be the one to break out that pattern for all of us. Nothing is permanent. Patterns, included.








Do you, like me, find daydreams to be of the future and night-time dreams to be of the past?

Ban the veil? Ridiculous.
If it’s to stop repression of women, start with banning spandex and very high heel shoes.
They’re health hazards.

Happiness doesn’t last. If it did, it will be called boredom.
I would like my life to be a string of happiness punctuated by good work.



Friday, January 20, 2017

YOKO ONO - CUT PIECE

by Madeline Bocaro


Scissors are a useful tool, but rarely are they used in the name of art. There are some notable instances; Wallace Berman, 1950s (Assemblage), Brion Gysin, 1960s (Collage) William Burroughs, 1970s (Literature), shadowed by David Bowie (Lyrics), Edward Scissorhands, 1980s (Landscaping) and of course, Yoko Ono. 

Yoko had originally written Cut Piece as a conceptual score in 1962 with options (either spontaneous or circumstantial), in the same respect as John Cage’s infamous “4’ 33” score. Cut Piece eventually became a recurring live event, performed by Yoko herself, and by others.



Yoko had originally written Cut Piece as a conceptual score in 1962 with options (either spontaneous or circumstantial), in the same respect as John Cage's infamous "4' 33" score. Cut Piece eventually became a recurring live event, performed by Yoko herself, and by others.






Cut Piece (first version for single performer): Performer sits on stage with a pair of scissors in front of him. It is announced that members of the audience may come on stage – one at a time – to cut a small piece of the performer’s clothing to take with them. Performer remains motionless throughout the piece. Piece ends at the performer’s option.


Cut Piece  (Grapefruit)
Performer sits on stage with a pair of scissors placed in front of her and asking the audience to come up on the stage, one by one, and cut a portion of her clothing (anywhere they like) and take it. The performer, however, does not have to be a woman.



Yoko reverses the role of the artist projecting his or her vision. Cut Piece allows the audience their own interpretation via participation - to physically take a piece from the work – essentially the cloak of the artist – who is completely unmasked and vulnerable.

“…the author's ego is contained in traditional works. It means to thrust ego upon the audience. 
I have always wanted to produce work without such ego by standing at a spiritual state of perfect selflessness…
My feelings were, to not thrust the thing I chose upon others, and no matter what it is, please take away the part you like, and please take the part you like with you by cutting it off. "
– y.o. - Tada no Atashi (Just Me!) 1986

For each performance of Cut Piece, Yoko sacrificed her best clothing. On one occasion she wore a black dress from London's famous Biba boutique. Wearing good clothing elevated the importance of the work.

"In those days, I didn't have many clothes, and I made sure to I pick the one I loved.

– Yoko Ono, Twitter

The Maysles brothers captured Yoko's March 1965 Carnegie Recital Hall performance of Cut Piece on film. One by one, audience members gingerly approach the stage. At the start, the scissors are ritualistically laid out on the floor, glistening in the dim light like a Samurai sword in front of the kneeling, sacrificial artist. The stage is set; artist, viewers and a dangerous sharp object. Anything can happen. The first person picks up the scissor and selects a preferred part of Yoko's clothing to snip. The scissors are taken by the next person, and the unmasking continues as the audience performs the strip tease. There is nervousness, titillation and giggling.

Yoko has the opposing perspective. Blades come moving toward her, dangerously close to her face. Which garment will be cut away next? There goes the bra strap. She sees it from the utmost center.

"The audience was quiet and still, and I felt that everyone was holding their breath. While I was doing it, I was staring into space. I felt kind of like I was praying. I also felt that I was willingly sacrificing myself."

Yoko looks uneasy, yet determined and prepared to take whatever comes, knowing that she is giving her all. The art becomes (inter)action. The unpredictability of events is nerve wracking. – the situation could become potentially aggressive or violent. But in most instances, things proceed calmly (except during the first performance in Kyoto, when a man raised the scissors in threat, but then calmly cut a piece of Yoko's dress). The artist, the clothing and the scissors are props for the audience's performance.

"Instead of giving the audience what the artist chooses to give, the artist gives what the audience chooses to take. That is to say, you cut and take whatever part you want; that was my feeling about its purpose. I went onto the stage wearing the best suit I had. To think that it would be OK to use the cheapest clothes because it was going to be cut anyway would be wrong; it's against my intentions. I was poor at the time, and it was hard. This event I repeated in several different places, and my wardrobe got smaller and smaller. However, when I sat on stage in front of the audience, I felt that this was my genuine contribution. This is how I really felt."  –  y.o. Just Me!  1974

The ultimate inspiration for Cut Piece was a famous story told to Yoko as a child about the selflessness of Buddha.

In 1967, Yoko stated in a London article, "…It was a kind of criticism against artists, who are always giving what they want to give. I wanted people to take whatever they wanted to, so it was very important to say you can cut wherever you want to. It is a form of giving that has a lot to do with Buddhism. There's a small allegorical story about Buddha. He left his castle with his wife and children and was walking towards a mountain to go into meditation. As he was walking along, a man said that he wanted Buddha's children because he wanted to sell them or something. So Buddha gave him his children. Then someone said he wanted Buddha's wife and he gave him his wife. Someone calls that he is cold, so Buddha gives him his clothes. Finally a tiger comes along and says he wants to eat him and Buddha lets the tiger eat him. And in the moment the tiger eats him, it became enlightened or something. That's a form of total giving as opposed to reasonable giving like "logically you deserve this" or "I think this is good, therefore I am giving this to you."

"Cut piece was ritualistic and ceremonial.

Nuns understood it because they are used to giving.

All of us have energy but not all of us give it. It's easy to change the world."

– Yoko, November 2014 Lecture at Paley Center

Yoko told Robert Enright in 1994 that at the time, "I didn't have any notion of feminism." but later accepted the feminist associations about Cut Piece that she had not originally intended. She became a radical feminist soon after. Ono's 1970 film Fly, was more of a feminist statement.

Yoko had also applied the idea of cutting to film…

FILM SCRIPT 3

Ask audience to cut the part of the image on the screen that they don't like.

Supply scissors

- from SIX FILM SCRIPTS BY YOKO ONO, Tokyo, June 1964

The catalog for Stone (a multimedia collaboration at Judson Church Gallery, New York with John Hendricks and other artists) included Yoko's summary of Cut Piece.

"People went on cutting the parts they do not like of me. Finally there was only the stone remained of me that was in me but they were still not satisfied and wanted to know what it's like in the stone."
– Yoko,  March 1966

Performance artist Charlotte Moorman performed Yoko's Cut Piece hundreds of times. She saved all the pieces of clothing that had been cut away from her over the years, as a gift to Yoko.

“One hundred years from now, it’s Yoko Ono the world is going to remember. 
Not John Lennon or the Beatles.” – Charlotte Moorman

* Wallace Berman and William Burroughs appear on the The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover.



Cut Piece Performances by Yoko Ono:


July 20, 1964 Kyoto, Yamaichi Concert Hall with Anthony Cox

August 11, 1964 Tokyo, Sogetsu Art Center – Strip-Tease Show

March 1965 New York City, Carnegie Recital Hall – New Works of Yoko Ono

Sept. 28 & 29, 1966 London, Africa Center – DIAS presents Two Evenings with Yoko Ono

September 2003 Paris, Ranelagh Theater (performed by Yoko at age 70)

"Against ageism, against racism, against sexism and against violence."



Notable Re-Enactments:

September 1966 - 4th Avant Garde Art Festival organized by Charlotte Moorman, New York, Central Park - performed by two men. + various subsequent performances by Charlotte Moorman

April 1967 - London, Alexandria Palace performed by model Carol Mann. (Directed as

part of the 14-Hour Technicolor Dream Extravaganza)


Fall 1968 - London, Judson Gallery by John Hendricks

2012 - Waco, TX, by Baylor University Art & Theater students

2013 London, Meltdown Festival (curated by Yoko Ono) – by Peaches

Saturday, January 07, 2017

APPLE



APPLE

Yoko Ono
 by Madeline Bocaro

In November 1966, Yoko Ono debuted her art piece, Apple at her exhibit titled Unfinished Paintings and Objects at London's Indica gallery.

This was where Beatle John Lennon first encountered the Japanese artist and her work in November 1966. He thought that the bright green Granny Smith apple on a plexiglas pedestal with its asking price of £200 was "pretty funny",  and proceeded to take a bite prior to the show's opening the next day. This modern tale of Adam and Eve began the ballad of John and Yoko, leading to a wider world view of Ono's art. It also began the turbulent, yet exciting years for the infamous couple who would dedicate their eternal union to promoting peace.

"I finally met Yoko and the dream became a reality."
- John Lennon, The Ballad of John and Yoko

Yoko was not only presenting nature's perfect creation, the apple on a pedestal. She was also – unwittingly –  an avant-garde Johnny Appleseed leaving a trail of seeds, using nature to nurture conceptual art via the forbidden fruit. (Her art also assimilated many other elements of nature; sky, wind, water, air…the whole universe!) In her collaboration with nature, Yoko presents an apple's beauty and transience as it decays - life as art, art as life.

In religion and in mythology, the apple is associated love, sensuality, sin and temptation.

"The apple is the wisdom we gave to men"
 – Yoko Ono 2010
 
Upon entering Yoko's One Woman Show at the Museum of Modern Art (New York City, May 2015) the first vision was a brightly lit, glowing green Apple on the original cracked Plexiglass pedestal from 1966 - with a security guard standing behind it. I asked if he felt silly guarding an apple. He replied, "Yes, because it's totally replaceable!" He said that it would be often replaced with a fresh apple, contrary to Yoko's original idea of the piece…

"There is the excitement of watching the apple decay, and the decision as to whether to replace it, or just thinking of the beauty of the apple after it's gone."
      Yoko Ono, Daily Sketch November 15, 1966
     
For what became John and Yoko's Acorn Event (1968) at Coventry Church, Yoko had originally planned to bury an apple so that a tree would grow, but John suggested planting acorns facing east and west instead (signifying their union).

"Art is a beautiful thing but art is not just creating something. People who think that are wrong. Everything is created already in the world. Nature created everything and you don't have to create anything anymore, so art then is just reevaluating what is already there." - Yoko Ono, International Times 1971

Inevitably, a comparison to Duchamp was made, because of his use of readymade objects. The two artists' commonality was that their art was 'off the canvas, and off the wall'

"I felt that I had gone a step further from (Duchamp's) idea of found objects…I was saying, Here's something I'm presenting that you can add to…"
      Yoko to Hans Ulrich Obrist, November 2001

And in the end…

 "When it deteriorates and disappears, the pedestal with the 'APPLE' plaque will just be left there like a tombstone." Y.O.


THE OTHER APPLE…

The Beatles' Apple Records label was, launched in the summer of 1968. The apple logo was first used on the single 'Hey Jude'/'Revolution'.

 "I had this friend called Robert Fraser, who was a gallery owner in London…We were discovering Magritte in the sixties… we just loved his sense of humour. And when we heard that he was a very ordinary bloke who used to paint from nine to one o'clock, and with his bowler hat, it became even more intriguing. One day Robert brought this painting to my house."
 - Paul McCartney to Belgian journalist Johan Ral, 1993

The name of the painting is actually 'Le jeu de mourre' (The Game of Mora). In René Magritte - Catalogue Raisonné (1993), it is listed as number 1051 and situated late in the artist's life, in 1966. As Paul still owns the original painting, only a black and white photograph is available to the public. A colorized version has been re-created.


 "We were out in the garden and Robert didn't want to interrupt, so when we went back in the big door from the garden to the living room, there on the table he'd just propped up this little Magritte. It was of a green apple. That became the basis of the Apple logo. Across the painting Magritte had written in that beautiful handwriting of his 'Au Revoir'. …And this big green apple, which I still have now, became the inspiration for the logo. And then we decided to cut it in half for the B-side!""
- Paul McCartney, Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser, Harriet Vyner (1999)

René Magritte passed away in 1967 at age 68.



Friday, July 22, 2016

GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF YOKO ONO’S FILM - No. FOUR


By Madeline Bocaro

In 1967, a young Japanese artist turned the film world upside down with her strange movie.  After making several short films and as part of the Fluxus movement, Yoko Ono had yet another brilliant idea. Her script read, 'String bottoms together in place of signatures for petition for peace.'

Ono had also envisioned her film's future…
"In 50 years or so, which is like 10 centuries from now, people will look at the film of the 60's. They will probably comment on Ingmar Bergman as meaningfully meaningful film-maker Jean-Luc Godard as the meaningfully meaningless. Antonini as meaninglessly meaningful, etc, etc. Then they would come to the No. 4 film and see a sudden swarm of exposed bottoms that these bottoms, in fact belonged to people who represented the London scene. And I hope that they would see that the 60's was not only the age of achievements, but of laughter. This film, in fact, is like an aimless petition signed by people with their anuses. Next time we wish to make an appeal, we should send this film as the signature list." - Yoko Ono London '67

The seeds of the film FOUR (a.k.a. Bottoms) germinated in New York City in 1966. Two hours of film were shot in just two days at Ono's New York City apartment at 1 West 100th Street. The directors were Yoko's then husband, Tony Cox and Tony Perkins. The short five-minute, fifteen-seconds low budget silent version was titled FOUR (working title, Four Square) Four was a conceptual number, as Yoko had already made several other Fluxfilms. {FOUR was actually Fluxfilm No. 16.}

The film  featured tight close-up studies of fifteen bare male and female bottoms in motion, showing ten seconds of each, as they slowly walked on an unseen treadmill. The motion was rhythmically edited, not skipping a beat. It was later compared to the motion studies of Muybridge.

"For me, the film is less about bottoms than about a certain beat, a beat you didn't see in films, even in avant-garde films then. It was about movement. The beat in Film No 4 (Bottoms) is comparable to a rock beat. Even in the music world there wasn't that beat until rock came along. It's the closest thing to the heartbeat." – Yoko 1989

The short film features the bottoms of Susannah Campbell, Philip Corner, Anthony Cox, Bici Hendricks, Geoffrey Hendricks, Yoko Ono, Ben Patterson, Jeff Perkins, Susan Poland, Jerry Sablo, Carolee Schneeman, James Tenney, Pieter Vanderbeck and Verne Williams. It premiered at the Film-Maker's Cinematheque, New York on 6th February 1966.

(Yoko met John Lennon nine months later, just before her first London art exhibit, Unfinished Paintings, Nov. 8-18 1966 at the Indica gallery, co-owned by John Dunbar, Peter Asher and Barry Miles).

The second, now infamous eighty-minute version of FOUR was filmed in Swinging London in Yoko's friend Victor Musgrave's townhouse. It included many more famous and infamous bottoms (conceptually 365). The credits list many London scene-makers, including Richard Hamilton, who later designed The Beatles (white album) cover.

The film's casting quickly became an event by word of mouth and an advertisement in the influential English underground newspaper IT (International Times). Talk of Ono's film was a popular amusement in the press every day. Now, due to her colleagues' contributions, Ono could afford more sophisticated camera equipment. The close-ups, framing only the buttocks, are more controlled. It cost of 1,000 pounds to produce. Because she felt that the sequencing was very important, Yoko spent many hours editing the film in a studio that she was allowed to use for free, after midnight. 

FOUR has an amusing soundtrack consisting of shy giggling and commentary of the actual participants, intellectualizing the film's absurd concept in relation to the art world. The soundtrack also included audio from television news coverage, and Yoko voicing the concept of the film.

A cast of approximately one hundred men and women (Yoko's friends, artists and musicians) 'saints of our time' walked on the treadmill. Their bottoms were framed close-up, dividing the screen into four moving quadrants. There are conceptually 365 bottoms to coincide with each day of the calendar year. A humorous film trailer was produced, with the actual participants commenting about their own bottoms, about art, and shots of Yoko editing and filming.

In March 1967, plans for a Royal Albert Hall debut screening were disrupted. Yoko was surprised to learn that her film did not sit well with the film censors. It was deemed 'not suitable for public exhibition.'
The censorship caused sensational and valuable media coverage, especially by BBC newsmen, who were enamored by Yoko and her film. One television station actually showed three minutes of the banned film on the evening news, as part of the censorship story – the best advertisement of all!

Then twenty-five year old Yoko Ono staged a peaceful protest at the British Board of Film Censors in the early morning, where reporters had already gathered. She handed out (conceptually 1,000) daffodils, supported by several of her 'cast'. They displayed photo stills from the film, with text asking 'What's wrong with this picture?' Headlines read, 'Fragrant Picket for Film Censor', and 'Yoko, the Girl BEHIND a Protest.' She told reporters, 'The whole idea of the film is one of peace. It's quite harmless. It is not in the least bit dirty or kinky. There's no murder or violence.'

When Yoko was invited to enter the censors' offices, she found that her daffodils were displayed on each desk. She had won them over. Bottoms was granted a Local X rating by London council and screened in cinemas. Now she was excited to begin her mooning of the art world!

(Filmmaker) Jonas Mekas once said that if the audience all walked out of your show, it meant that you were successful – or something to that effect. It was a sentiment shared by many of us in the avant-garde world at the time. It meant that you did not stoop so low as to try to entertain the audience but made a successful attempt in evoking strong emotions they were not ready to handle. It was Art vs. Entertainment. – Yoko 1988

The film premiered at the Jacey - Tatler Cinema on Charing Cross Road, 8th August 1967. After the movie, Yoko gave a short talk. She hugged and kissed each person as they left the theater, whether or not they stayed until the end.
Due to the attention that Ono was garnering (both good and bad), her avant-garde colleagues were not pleased, thinking that she had sold out.

"I found out much later that they were even giggling behind the iron curtain No wonder my artistic friends dropped me. It was a total antithesis to Art per se. But actually I was the ultimate snob. I was going "Up Yours!" to the whole world including the avant-garde. It was a great high but also a lonely one." – Yoko 1988
Although nudity was emergent in foreign films, No. 4 was released amongst early instances of nudity in Hollywood productions, such as The Graduate and Valley of the Dolls, which included brief, titillating scenes. Despite the nudity being constant and close-up, Ono's film was playful and thoughtful, not pornographic. Her films had more in common with Andy Warhol's avant garde factory movies. (Alternately and ironically, her next film titled Rape exhibited no nudity at all.)
It's a pretty interesting film really. It's like wine. Any film, any cheap film if you put it underground for 50 years, becomes interesting. You just take a shot of people walking and that's enough: the rate of history is so incredible.  – Yoko 1989

In 1996, the brand Swatch, in collaboration with Yoko Ono, designed a No. 4 watch. The advertisement read, "It has a celluloid quality, a strip of film taken right off the projector of a Manhattan art gallery."

Now, at age 84, Yoko petitions for peace with smiles.