Friday, 13 July 2012


Serpentine Gallery until 9 September
As well as being famously married to John Lennon, Ono is known for her unswerving belief in art's power to change society. This exhibition is a testament to that, but not everyone is happy about what she does or h ow she does it.  'Childish and brainless, Ono lives down to her name', says Michael Glover of the Independent; ' a fine, fun show' says Alastair Smart of the Telegraph; Richard Dorment's verdict is 'elusive, uneven, but by no means negligible'.

Before you get inside the Gallery, you are invited to write a wish on a label and tie it to one of the  Wish Trees. When I was there the trees were white with labels (in many languages). Most were wishing health and peace and goodwill to family/ friends/nations/ the whole universe. Others were more specific:
  • I wish people would smile all the time and bake more cakes.
  • I wish I made sense.
  • I wish I was more popular.
  • I wish to meet a millionaire man who is caring and God fearing  and will become my husband.
  • Please grant me patience and allow me to express joy and love for my husband that's being hindered by premenstrual hormones. Thank you and love to you.
  • I wish Yoko's exhibition was better.
Inside the gallery Ono's smiling face on video presents #smilesfilm. She aims to make a film which 'includes a smiling face snap of every single human being in the world'. Viewers are invited to join in by uploading and sending images of their smiles there and then, creating 'a global string of smiles covering the planet'. After giving the technical details, Ono ends with 'Big Kiss. I love you'. Is this twee - or simply un-British?
Laura McLean-Ferris of the Independent is one of several reviewers who have the space to give an overview of this many-faceted show. It's hard to know where to start. For example there's the sound of a regular heartbeat in one corner with the label Heartbeat Syria 2012 on the wall. Footsteps We Made consists of paper copies of John and Oko's footprints, shown walking up the wall 'to the sky' with an Oko poem beside them.
Yoko Ono
Installation view, Yoko Ono: TO THE LIGHT
Serpentine Gallery, London
(19 June - 9 September 2012)
© 2012 Jerry Hardman-Jones
Pointedness 1964 consists of a crystal globe, 4-5cm in diameter, balanced at eye-level on one of these transparent Perspex stands. Beside it is the text: This globe will be a sharp point when it gets to the far corners of the room in your mind. Now I happen to have seen this just after reading an essay on  'Why do we have a brain?' by Professor Daniel Wolpert. Apparently it's not to think or perceive. Movement is the most impotant function of the brain. You generate beliefs (and actions) from data (what we sense from the world),  and from memory. (Which is presumably what Murray and Federer relied on last weekend when they saw a ball coming their way). Is Ono reminding us that we may walk away from the installation with a new configuration tucked away inside our brain...?
Back to the Wish Trees. In the Guardian the critic Michael Bracewell accused anyone who happens to find the whimsy of the Wish Tree less powerful than he does, of being both sexist and racist. Would you tie a label on the tree? What might it say?

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