Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Yoko Ono Stretches Rope in St. Paul's Cathedral, Sports a Skull

Ono is in London for an exhibition at St. Paul's Cathedral of three of her works that seek to promote peace. The show, sponsored by Canon Inc., kicks off the three-week City of London arts-and-music festival.

In ``Morning Beam,'' 100 pieces of nylon rope extend from a high cathedral window to the floor as an evocation of light. ``Cleaning Piece (Riverbed)'' is a carpet of smoothed river stones, while a potted ``Wish Tree'' is designed to hold tags that viewers scribble their wishes on.

Pausing between photographs and signing autographs, Ono, 73, spoke to me about war, healing and living with John Lennon.

Nayeri: These works were done long before 9/11, the Iraq war and Afghanistan. Can you talk about how relevant they've become?

Ono: They seem very relevant, but I didn't plan it that way. Sadly, the world is becoming so violent. I was just hoping that it would be something that people can meditate on. Especially because of the situation in the world, I'm going around different countries to help them heal.

Nayeri: Is this a message you're conveying to people like (U.S. President) George W. Bush? Have you met him?

Ono: No, no. I'm sure that he wouldn't want to meet with me. (She giggles.) A busy man. No, this is not a direct protest at anybody. This is just something to offer to people to heal. That, you can do. Even the president can heal, if he wants to.

Lawyers for Peace

Nayeri: Do you think we're farther from peace than we were?

Ono: Some people are saying there's going to be a third World War. I hope not. I really think this is a time that people can start to mend things by negotiations, dealings. We know about dealings, don't we? We have brilliant lawyers. Why don't we have brilliant lawyers standing up and working for peace?

Nayeri: The wish tree comes from where?

Ono: When I was a little girl, we would go to a temple. They gave us these little cards that said Love, Life, Money, etc. It's printed, and you put that on the branch of the bush.

When you go to a temple, even from afar, you see the bush almost has blossoms, flowers, white flowers. I had that in my memory, and I was thinking, what if we did it like a tree?

I didn't think much of it, but this happens to be my most popular work.


Nayeri: Why are you wearing a diamond skull around your neck?

Ono: Is it a diamond skull? It's a skull; that's the point. Not the fact that it's diamonds. It might be rhinestones, I don't know. I like the sparkling skull just because it looks good. Also, it's kind of a reminder that it's there.

Nayeri: That death is there?

Ono: Well, yeah ... it's another form of us. I don't consider this death.

Nayeri: Where do you live most of the time, and why have you chosen to be there?

Ono: I didn't choose it. It's New York City. For some reason, my fate was that I just kept going there, and finally John and I ended up buying an apartment. Of course, we were always moving around. We didn't think it was going to be somewhere we stayed too long. But then John passed away, and it became such a big thing for me, because it was the last place that John and I were together. I didn't want to throw that away. It's the only thing, the only place that I had that we cherished and built into a home together.


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