Yoko Ono is an architect of creative practice, a conductor of the orchestra of the public psyche. Her performance exhibit Dream Come True, which is housed at MALBA through August, is an abstract synopsis of Ono’s distinguished career.
In much of her performance work, Ono works to create a sentiment of social unification and community by engineering an immersive, collaborative, and interactive experience for her audience to engage in. In this manner, Ono’s performance work is multi-dimensional; the environments she creates are singular and provocative, but in addition to the emotional response that they evoke, Ono’s art serves to catalyze unique and inspired creative thought and habit in the viewer.
To achieve a wide scope of accessibility with her audience, Dream Come True marries together different artistic domains and blends and contrasts their different means of communication.
Interspersed throughout the exhibit are Yoko Ono’s Instructions (first published in 1964 in her artist’s book Grapefruit) a series of brief Koen-like wisdoms that act as reference points to inform and expand the viewer’s perception as they explore the exhibit.
There is a beautifully crafted under-webbing of philosophical design that serves as the scaffolding for this exhibit. Ono’s Instructions invite the audience to witness or participate in spontaneous action.
“Spend a whole year coughing” Ono whispers, and you know that perhaps, in some future past, you have done so.
Many of the pieces displayed are in form the creation of Yoko, but the content itself is supplied by the visiting locality. The unifying action of public creation generates a rather fragile but electric atmosphere of common experience.
Take this picture. The piece in question is a staircase spiraling like a twist of blue fennel towards the ceiling (titled To See the Sky Looking Up, this show is the piece’s debut).
A crowd is captured below, absently or curiously watching the little girl descend the stairs. This is one of two exhibits that involves the act of climbing, and the visiting audience is led to make a connection between the two*. There is the assumption of purpose to the act of climbing the staircase.
*(Ono’s ‘Yes’ is the other piece connecting the act of climbing)
The interactive nature of the exhibit means that there are an invariable amount of potential sub-exhibits to explore.
The visiting audience itself becomes a crowd of performers worth giving attention to.
This is the exhibit. The journey itself. Here, Ono succeeds in fostering the collective observation of the beauty of everyday action.
The multi-media displayed in the exhibit include some of the seminal pieces of Ono’s performance-based repertoire like her Painting To Be Stepped On, Yes, and Hide-and-Seek Piece.
Much of the non-participatory work in the exhibit is relayed through video. Most notably, widescreen videos of Cut Piece (1965), and Fly (1971), are displayed, alongside others.
Every piece of film is timestamped, which surfaces questions over reoccurring trends of social inequality. Traditionally, Ono’s work is created within the immediate context of a globally significant event. With this, the exhibit carries with it a breath of nostalgia, an essence of memory, the suggestion of chance, and a gentle encouragement for creation.
There is a certain hollowness to the essence of the exhibit itself, an airiness that stems from the fact that much of the substantial content is created by the participation of the audience. Yet there is a sense that the form of each of the participatory pieces is deliberate, that the aesthetic decisions intimately reflect the desires of the current section of the viewing public.
The fluid use of form and content and the appreciation of potential avenues of communication are what sets this exhibit apart. Yoko successfully creates the subjectivity of a dream. In the end, the viewer determines the nature of the experience. The direction Yoko offers is subtle, and only acts to ensure a rich and dynamic appreciation for spontaneous action and wild and uncharted thought.
MALBA [Figueroa Alcorta 3415]
June 24 – August 31, 2016