One of the most leading avant-garde international movements throughout the 1960s, Fluxus gathered an array of visual artists, poets, composers, and designer and was influenced by the legacy of Marcel Duchamp (mostly his ready-made concept) and the ideas of John Cage. The proponents of Fluxus experimented with different media while exploring the notion and of an artwork and its place/role in society. The movement was male-dominated, yet there was a woman who started developing her artistic career within the Fluxus currents, and this was Yoko Ono.
Her entire practice is based on performativity, mostly expressed through sound and moving images. The artist gained critical attention for her profoundly contemplative, yet socio-politically driven artworks, some of them made in collaboration with her late husband John Lennon, the famous members of The Beatles.
In 2013, Yoko Ono had a solo exhibition at the villa of Ernst Fuchs in Vienna called Interventions, and this year the sequel of that show will be presented at The Georgian House Museum, where a selection of works Ono made in the 1960s and 1970s will be joined by the more recent ones.
The title Interventions/2 refers to the re-contextualization of the space in regards to Ono’s work and the museum’s history. The curator Jimmy Galvin was led by the idea of presenting conceptual art in an unexpected way and propose a new form of a dialog with the visitors. Galvin emphasized his approach:
It is a way to bring a new spotlight onto Bristol’s heritage and involvement with the slave trade, and as with all great art, it gives us permission to open dialogue and create a better understanding of ourselves and our city’s past, as well as its future, and what role we need it to perform. Art is the platform that enables everyone to join in the conversation, and I believe it is the job of art to reach out to the wider communities and keep us all engaged.
From the late 1950s, after joining New York Cityʼs thriving avant-garde scene, through the 1960s and collaboration with La Monte Young and solo show in George Maciunas’ AG Gallery in New York, to various performances, collected conceptual instruction pieces, and films, her 1970s music career, John’s death in the 1980s and the participatory Wish Tree project, the recognition and first retrospectives in 1990s, all the way to new works made in the 2000s, Yoko Ono never gave up broadening her perspective of art by searching for new ideas and representational formats.
Therefore, the upcoming exhibition will retrospectively encompass a few of Ono’s iconic films from the 1960s and early 1970s such as Cut Piece (1964/5), Eyeblink (flux film no.9 and 15) (1966), Freedom (1971), Fly (1970, directed by Ono and John Lennon) and Sky TV (1966/2019). On display will also be an upgraded version of the recent work called Arising, which was premiered at the 2013 Venice Biennale, dealing with the abuse of women.
Yoko Ono often dealt with the issue of violence, so the curator Jimmy Galvin selected these works to question the hidden histories of contemporary human trafficking and the historical slave trade. The installment will pose many questions rotating around the notion of art as activism in a digitally formatted global landscape.
Yoko Ono: Interventions/2 will be on view at The Georgian House Museum in Bristol from 28 September until 31 December 2019.
Featured image: Yoko Ono directing Film No. 4 “Bottoms” in London, 1966-67. Photo by John D. Drysdale. Courtesy of Yoko Ono. All images courtesy The Georgian House Museum.