“What I’m trying to do is make something happen by throwing a pebble into the water and creating ripples… I don’t want to control the ripples.” -Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono’s multidisciplinary art practice has always been radical, sensitive and conceptual. As an early avant-garde performance artist, her work divorced itself from the traditional notion of seeing art as only material objects. Grapefruit, Ono’s 1964 book and art piece is constructed mainly of simple instructional poems, a format that became her signature and she continues today. The writing in Grapefruit, which includes over 150 pieces,directs the reader’s attention to ideas over appearances. The completion of the proposed instructions is handed to the audience and can be processed through visualization, action or not at all.
After Grapefruit interprets Yoko Ono’s writing through the photographic medium. The images are prompted by the instructions listed in Grapefruit and seek to visually articulate my perception of the writing. Her poetry is potent and visceral, it is universal and intimately specific at once. She speaks about nature, physical connection, eating and breathing—innate parts of the human experience. The photographs are personal and intuitive, capturing subject matter and people that are close to me. The series is a combination of staged (instructed) portraits and atmospheric photographs. Some perform the described actions from the book while others communicate an emotion or energetic quality I find in Yoko Ono’s writing. The assemblage approach of the installation attempts to map and place the images as carefully as the words and phrasing of each instruction. I hope viewers can float through this work and not consider the text and images as cemented pairs. Instead they can circulate, speak in unison and allow space for the viewer’s imagination.
- All selected instruction pieces by Yoko Ono from Grapefruit, 1964, published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 1970, 2000.