Yoko and Me: Healing the Universe

Currently at the Andrea Rosen Gallery in Chelsea is The Riverbed by Yoko Ono. The exhibit is comprised of three interactive installations; Mend Piece, Stone Piece and Line Piece. You should always beware when you see the words “interactive” and “installation” used in the same sentence.

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Mend Piece is choking to death on metaphors.

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It’s about healing and making peace with the damage in the world. A table is strewn with broken cups and saucers. Yoko provides glue, string, tape and other bonding materials.

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The idea is to repair the broken pieces. As you perform this, you are instructed to be mindful of the mending that’s needed elsewhere in the universe (not to mention your own tumultuous life). It’s actually a very sweet notion. I found her kind, gentle intent admirable, although a bit too New-Agey for my tastes.

The big surprise is how incredibly creative some people are. Finished pieces are displayed on white shelves along all four walls of the gallery. (Click for detail.)

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riverbed9 Some very impressive assemblages were created.

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A caterpillar in a cocoon hanging from a thread

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It reminded me of an Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein piece whereby the artist provides the inspiration and materials but relies on other people to execute it. It’s like all of the fat with none of the calories (for the artist).

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After mending a cup, you are invited to enjoy a (free) macchiato. It’s served in cups with cracks in them; imperfect but still whole. Just like you and me.

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While sipping my macchiato, I heard a loud *POP* a few feet away from me. Someone had taken their macchiato and THREW it against the wall. The cup shattered and the liquid streamed down the wall. I think it was done in the spirit of it being an interactive installation but it wasn’t appreciated.

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When the young gallery hottie came running over (ALL Chelsea galleries employ young hotties) I said I thought it was kind of interesting. She snapped, “You wouldn’t think it was so interesting if you had to clean it up.” I said the wrong thing. That happens a lot.

I’m glad I’m not a stone in Stone Piece.

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Seat cushions are placed on the floor around the perimeter of a second gallery with smooth stones stacked in front of them.

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It’s a meditative exercise. The idea is to hold a stone and transfer all your negative energy into it. I tried to play along but I couldn’t find a boulder large enough to absorb all my fear, angst and self-loathing. Yoko has written on some of the stones. I picked one up, turned it over and it said “Dream.” So I dreamed about having a gigantic, multi-room flat in The Dakota. Dream big or go home.

In Line Piece, we are instructed to “Take me to the farthest place in our planet by extending the line.” Yoko provides string, hammers and nails. People pound nails into the wall and connect string across the room.

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The gallery is crisscrossed in a web of string. Traversing the gallery is a bit of a challenge. You have to walk low to the ground.

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Pencils are provided and you can draw on the wall but I didn’t see anything as fetching as what was done with the broken china.

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The installation evolves over time. You can visit it each week and there’ll be new sculptures, drawings and maybe even a macchiato mess to clean up.

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The Opposite of Healing the Universe

I’m assuming that most of you are not blessed wih a local tabloid newspaper. Our hometown tabloids, the New York Post and New York Daily News, are at their finest when screaming a headline. Here’s a fine example from this past week. Enjoy!

daily news

83 thoughts on “Yoko and Me: Healing the Universe

  1. If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough! I like your style. I too think the splattered coffee on the wall is interesting and I also think the person who did that is. I’d have wanted to get to know them. At least they were taking the whole “concept” on board. Nothing like a bit of anarchy either.

    Now then, some of those stuck together pieces that people made are interesting enough that they could sit side by side with some of the other things you’ve shown us on here before and fetch trillions of dollars, no? I fail to see any difference between some of those and some of the other odd things that are accepted as art.

    I think I might of enjoyed this interactive exhibition. Like you it would probably be a bit too new age for me but the quirkiness of it appeals to me.

    That looks very much like a British tabloid. You’re catching on!

    • It *was* and act of anarchy! But the funny thing is, I didn’t see who did it. They were hustled out of the gallery in such a hurry that I never saw the culprit/artist. There’s a major difference between these pieces and the other odd things I’ve shown you. Those high-ticket items have better gallery representation. Sometimes, I think that’s the only thing separating a successful artist from a struggling one. Good galley reps.

      I don’t think our tabloids can hold a candle to the scandal rags you guys have. I’m jealous. I hope we can achieve the same…ummmm…dynamic that your rags display.

  2. Oh God, imagine being the guy that thought he’d get into the spirit of things by throwing his coffee against the wall. Imagine thinking ‘Everyone will gasp and think how profoundly I’ve interpreted and absorbed myself in this’. And then everyone just looking at you in silence and someone growling ‘You dickhead, I’ve got to clean that up now.’
    URGH, TOO AWKWARD.

    • You never know what motivates a person. There’s an equal chance he was trying to antagonize everyone. He may have gotten the exact reaction he was hoping for. One things for certain; there’s only room for ONE narcissist in any single Chelsea gallery. Outside agitators need not apply. Thanks for reading! Haven’t seen you in ages.

  3. I think that coffee stain was no less a piece of art than anything else in that gallery. And the gallery could have just easily cleaned up by putting Yoko Ono’s name and a price tag over that stain (Uncleaned, 2016, by Yoko Ono. Mocchiato, porcelain, and random act of narcissism over drywall, $200,000)

  4. I think whoever did it had nerve. I might have thought it was a bomb at first though.

    Donald Trump was called a “wazzock” in Parliament the other day, and I notice that it’s the top word “trending” (how I hate that word!) in the US version of the online Oxford English Dictionary. I love it and my daughters use it a great deal (mainly about me) but it’s very slangy and I’m surprised it got an airing in the House of Commons.

    For you and your fellow North Americans…http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/wazzock

    • I agree. I would NEVER have the cojones to chuck a cup against a gallery wall. I’m too reserved. Thanks for providing the link. You’re suspicion was dead-on. I hadn’t ever heard of it and had no clue what it meant. I just had to Google “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain.” You guys keep me on my toes.

    • She’ll never give up and you’ve got to admire that. She could use her considerable financial might to further much darker matter but she chooses to go happy. I was going to say it’s not hard to do when you’re that wealthy but I forgot that her husband was assassinated right in front of her, so I guess she’s been through the mill.

      • She has, you’re right about that. Did you ever see the clip of a NYT reporter basically chiding John and Yoko for their peace events back in ’69? Every now and then I think of that and recall how affronted I was at her attitude (i.e., that it was hopeless) but now see that she had a point.

        Still, better to take light over dark…

      • LOTS of folks tried to make John and Yoko look like fools. The U.S. Gub-ment tried deporting them for preaching peace. But go back and watch those aggressive interviews. Who looks like a fool now? You dodn’t have to pay to see this exhibit. It’s all free. Isn’t that a nice gesture? She paid for the space and materials. Plus, presumably, the salary of the girl who had to sweep that shattered cup.

  5. Ha! I would have said the same thing you did about the mess on the wall. I’m so jealous at how much you get to experience in NY. Although just visiting the local Dunkin donuts here might be comparable.

    • I’m very fortunate that I live here. It wasn’t a great scheme I worked out when I was young. I had no plans or direction. I just wound up here. And if you’re going to live here and not take advantage of the fun stuff, you’re just putting up with noise and dirt and expensive, compressed living conditions and jerks. I envy your audience. For real.

      Have you tried the Dunkin’ Donuts dark roast? It’s a treat.

  6. You know, you gotta give Yoko credit — for trying to be uplifting. I am not sure that this would have worked for me any more than her music did. I happen to be possibly the only owner of the Plastic Ono Band’s first album. I’m sure it is a collectors item. And likely in mint condition because I sure as hell didn’t listen to it more than once.

  7. Definitely way too “New-Agey” for me. But I found it fascinating to read about so thank you for posting on it. It’s like reading about a world I know I’ll never enter. But the cup smashing and spilled coffee? Ha, I think that’s hilarious. They said interactive, after all. But true, I didn’t have to clean it up.

    Love the Trump and Palin pic.

    • I feel like I provide a community service here in blogland for folks interested in this sort of thing but who can’t just pick up and come here to see this stuff. I see lots of exhibits that don’t work for me. I usually don’t write about those because I’m not inspired. But even though this wasn’t my (smashed) cup of tea, I found it weirdly fascinating. Glad you enjoyed it! As always, there’s no fee.

  8. Did you read John Lennon’s account of how he met Yoko in the 60s? Apparently he was visiting an art gallery and she gave him a card with the word “Breathe” written on it. Fifty years later, you get a stone with the word “Dream” on it. Fascinating that she retained her preference for one-word commands over all that time. Now you can tell people you have something in common with John Lennon.

    • It’s commendable that Yoko is still producing art that, frankly, isn’t very accessible to the public. This exhibit would never play in Omaha. Earlier in this comment string her music was discussed. While her gallery work has retained it’s quirky attractiveness, she should definitely look into changing her song stylings. For all our sake.

      I’m not fit to fasten John Lennon’s sandals. Having said that, we both have the dream of living in The Dakota in common. A sad shame it cost him his life.

  9. Once again, you’ve taken me on a trip.
    I’m with you on the New Age focus and yeah, I’d have liked to see that cup-smashing! And, as someone (list of X?) noted, it was in the interactive spirit!

  10. Mend Piece sounds quite brilliant, but I can’t help but wonder how many people they’ve had to stop from trying to reenact Catherine Zeta-Jones’ “Entrapment” laser beam scene with Line Piece.

    And now I’ve got myself wondering how many people actually remember the movie “Entrapment”. Very thought-provoking, this exhibit.

    • I had to IMDB it. 1999. Featured one of Sean Connery’s fantastic wigs. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen IMDB used as a verb. 10 points Gryffindor.

      I didn’t exactly have to crawl on my belly to get across the gallery. More like a duck walk.

  11. I’m pretty sure that Yoky (as I like to call her) would not be pleased that the gallery staff cleaned up that coffee – if you want people to interpret and express themselves then you have to let them do it their way (as long as they’re not harming anyone, or anything – and I don’t call a coffee stain on the wall harming something, it didn’t destroy another piece of artwork or anything).

    I love the idea of this installation, my instinct with the broken cups and saucers would be to try and match up the actual broken pieces correctly, to try and make it look like it was in the first place – and maybe that says something about me that I should reflect over while holding a rock…

    • What is “Yoky” derived from? How did you arrive at that? I thought it was a typo. Good thing you provided an explanation. I was going to correct it for you.

      That’s an interesting supposition. I wonder what she would think of the smashed cup? I’m going to assume she’d be livid. After all, this is about peace and love and healing. What he did was a destructive act. I can’t imagine she’d approve but you never know.

      When I first read about this exhibit I had the same thought as you. How are you supposed to find the matching broken piece to mend together? It seemed impossible. It turns out that wasn’t the intent at all.

  12. Thanks. I really enjoy participating vicariously in your gallery experiences. There may be equally interesting ones to be had here in the San Francisco Bay area but I am something of a homebody. I also liked the juxtaposition of the tabloid cover with the gallery piece. I tried to picture Trump visiting the gallery. Now THAT is a big dream.

    • May be?! I’ll bet there are TONS of really interesting exhibits all over that town. San Fran is a great mecca for art. People from all over the world go to San Fran to enjoy that stuff and all you have to do is ride the BART. Being a homebody is nice but some fun stuff can pass you by.

    • It’s a good thing we ALL didn’t think chucking a cup at the wall is a good way to bond with like-minded individuals. Hey…maybe that can be a fun installation. I wonder if we’re the first to come up with the idea?

  13. I am so digging this interactive installation. Ha ha. OMG. I wish I could do it. And to have witnessed the macchiato thrown at the wall. You can’t make this stuff up! I bet seeing everyone’s creations would be the cool thing about it, which I suppose is was it’s all about. C’mon, I know you can get that Dakota flat. Concentrate on your stone, but not too hard. Don’t break or anything. By all means, you better not throw it. 🙂

    • I stood there watching all those creative types (including children) make fun sculptures and envied that I couldn’t participate. I simply couldn’t think past conventional tape/paste/tie/glue to see the shapes that were hidden. Plus, all the seats were taken at the table and there was nowhere to sit. Good thing for the cup-throwing theatrics.

  14. All too reminiscent of my smashing recent cruise when the storms littered the restaurant with broken glass and china. We could have done with Yoko then.
    I smirked at the hottie grumbling at having to clean up the spilt coffee. Had Damien thrown it it would have been treasured and priced at a million pounds.

    • It’s be a laugh-riot if Yoko got this idea while sailing the stormy seas. Your Damien Hirst reference is right on the money. In fact, Julian Schnable once glued pieces of broken china to a canvas and called it art. That’s not so far removed from what’s going on here.

  15. I didn’t know Miss Ono (can I call her that?) was still around doing, you know, stuff. But I quite like the thoughts behind this interactive stuff, I think it’s… sweet. That’s probably the wrong word, but first one that comes to mind, and I am all about putting down whatever first words come to mind. I think she did a good thing there. Thanks for telling us about it. By the way, I do think the macchiato on the wall thing looked kind of cool.

    As for Palin and Trump… does it seem for some reason that this moment, right here, is the prelude to the end of America as a respected global power? I won’t even use the word ‘superpower’, because I think that went away long ago. But respected global power, sure. Monstrous vat of ambition and dreaming, and success… yes. But Trump seems destined to end all that, and turn things into a bubbling pot of shit for you guys… I hope he doesn’t get the opportunity. I like to think of you guys south of the border as our bigger, much more successful brothers and sisters, and that you mostly ignore us not because you don’t care, but because you got better things to do – and that’s okay with us, cause we are just full of snowy envy – which is all right when you’re talking about family. It’s just family, and we like you guys. But please don’t let this crapitude continue, okay? We like our fuzzy memories and the thought that if someone comes over to beat us silly, you’ll be there and take care of things.

    • Yoko is still VERY active. The Museum of Modern Art just held a significant career retrospective.

      http://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1494?locale=en

      She really does have a good heart. (I mistyped a “goo” heart. That, too, I suppose). Every December, right before Christmas, she takes out a full page ad in the New York Times. It’s a big, blank, white space and in the middle of the page it says “War Is Over (If You Want It)”. At the bottom of the page it says “John and Yoko.” I look forward to it every season. I agree. The splatter art is fetching and original.

      I honestly don’t think America has been a global power for a while now. And I really couldn’t care less. Why is it so important to dominate the globe? If our citizens are, by and large, healthy and happy, what difference does it make who’s pulling the strings? I just read a report that said Germany is now, for all intents and purposes, the leading global power. So what. Who cares? As far as Trump is concerned, there are rumblings on the horizon that ex-NYC mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg is disgusted with the whole farce and might run as an independent. I PRAY it happens. I liked him a lot as mayor.

      • I think it’s important because we grew up thinking of you guys as the big powerful older brother, but now you’re in a wheel chair and stuff is sagging, and there’s a cliff that you’re rolling towards, and we want to help, but we’re kind of like toddlers on the grass, drinking wine out of sippy cups.

        I like Bloomberg as well. What’s he worth, like 44 billion? That should about cover it.

        And thanks for the stuff on Yoko, that’s good to know. I’ve now got a modicum of respect for her.

  16. Absolutely love the installation. I’m unapologetically new-agey I guess. Why does the cup you’re holding say Guernica on it? Interesting connection with Yoko’s views. I smashed a coffee against a wall in a post I wrote last year. I can’t resist linking you to it because it’s just so darn apropos! http://wp.me/p2qoFD-Ki
    Anyway, keep these posts coming, but don’t break the bank in the process! 🙂

    • I may not comment on all of your posts but I read each and every one of them and you are, without a doubt, the most new-agey writer in my feeder. That stuff doesn’t always get under my skin (and by “stuff” I don’t mean anything negative) but when it does, it hits me pretty hard. I love what Yoko intended. How can anyone have a problem with it?

      Thanks for the link. Pesticide. Heh.

    • It was interesting in a very child-like manner, which isn’t a harsh criticism at all. Everyone was in a good mood and happy to be there, which made it all the more shocking that someone would think to throw a cup at the wall.

      As far as the headline, do you know that guy might be our president? People keep saying there’s no way it could happen but I wouldn’t put it past the American electorate.

      • It’s definitely odd that someone would think to throw a coffee cup in a happy and creative environment like that. Sounds like someone who wants to cause a reaction more than enjoy the experience! It begs belief that he could be president, but I do agree it’s worryingly possible…fingers crossed for sanity!

  17. Trump visited a little college just northwest of our town. I stayed away. Circuses are depressing. From the tweets I followed, there are plenty of other screaming headlines awaiting. Yoko is a compelling person. I may not tune in to all she does, but she succeeds in getting me to think outside the box. Your blog was a lot of fun. We need more irreverence.

    • I don’t support Trump on any level but I absolutely would’ve gone to hear him speak. Who wouldn’t want to see history unfold in front of them as it’s being written? Even the ugly history of Donald Trump?

      I remember there used to be a lot of hatred aimed at Yoko but it seems to have subsided over the years. That’s a good thing. What was her sin? That she love John Lennon? They never hurt anyone. Quite the opposite.

  18. I might be the only one who liked Walking On Thin Ice!!??
    Did you not get the snow then? Right now we’re being whipped by wind and rain from the same storm.
    Sx

    • I Googled it. It’s not my thing. And so long! 7:00 minutes!

      Oh, we got snow all right. 21 inches worth. That’s 53 cm. I had never shoveled so much snow in such a short period of time. I was a big ball of throbbing hurt.

      • There was another one by her I liked… something to do with cat So??? I don’t know… I will have to Google.
        People die shovelling… Be like Bill and don’t shovel.
        Sx

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