Yoko Ono Did An Art
21st January 2021
Yoko Ono had an exhibition at MOMA but I wasn’t going to go. I had a hefty To-do list which included, and was entirely limited to, visiting bars.
For the week I was there, though, Yoko kept popping up, in the New York Times, in the New Yorker, on a homeless man who was using a promotional poster as a blanket. Everyone was talking about her. The reviews—from the public and critics—were glowing too. “Incredible,” people said. “A must see.”
I like art, but I’m not the type who will jump up and down at the sight of a new exhibition. But here was one of the most famous figures in the world at the most famous modern art museums in the world. So I relented. I blocked off an entire morning and mid-afternoon for Yoko. I became excited even. I mean, what sort of spectacle was deserving of so much acclaim?
Given my newfound enthusiasm, you can imagine my confusion when I reached the top floor and I was met by a big white wall with a video of what looked like a mass of black body hair. The piece was ostensibly underwhelming, sure, but who was I to judge? I might have drawn a doodle or two in my time, but I was no MOMA curator. So I investigated. I walked closer and stood contemplating this piece of art. After a minute, I finally caught on. I thought, Oh, I see. A gigantic hairy vagina.
The projection was gigantic, rather. I’m guessing the actual vagina was regular size. I waited for the video to change but nothing happened, other than buzzing sounds. Curious, I squinted further into the pubic abyss and, charmingly, I saw tiny insects crawling over the hairs. Lovely.
A while later, I realised my face was two feet away from the screen and, fearful of what people might think of me squinting at a vagina, I took a step back. I knew this was maybe the only time I could inspect (rather earnestly) a fly-beset crutch and still look high-brow, but I wasn’t going to take that chance. I left.
Around the corner, a person draped in a black cloth was performing bizarre body contortions. The unidentified figure wasn’t moving in any impressive way, or anything. They just erratically swayed around like they were trying to be the ocean. Around this figure, there were two old men in bowties who stroked their dainty moustaches, as well as extravagantly dressed women who nodded, again and again. Fair play, I thought and walked on.
Next, I saw older folks in tweed jackets and thick-framed glasses seemingly enamoured by an apple on a stand. That’s all, an apple. Actually there was more. The stand had a plaque. It said, “APPLE.” Maybe Yoko was having a laugh? If she was, good on her. She was certainly fooling these over-serious academic types who pensively stared at the fruit and then, upon me laughing at the plaque, looked at me and frowned.
By this point, I began wondering what the fuss was about, especially given the rest of the show displayed similarly bizarre pieces, like a scroll of black fabric and a water bottle hanging from the ceiling. I walked around aimlessly, observing the enthusiasts. The event felt like the Post Modern version of the folktale The Emperors New Clothes. I was waiting for a child to scream out, “But this is shit!” But in case my poor artistic taste was to blame, which was a safe guess, of course, I marched on and that’s when I saw hope, a music room. Given her and Lennon, Yoko no doubt had a discerning ear.
The room was bare and white, save for a few headphones. I sat down on a bench seat and went to listen, wrapping the headphones around my ears. The sound that came out was of someone, Yoko likely, banging a drum kit. There was no rhythm, just a mishmash of symbols, snares and tom-toms. Then, to make matters worse, Yoko literally began shouting. Not words. Just incoherent noises over the existing clatter.
“Urgh!” I said, taking off the headphones. The absence of noise was euphoric and I relaxed against the wall, surveying the floor, the water-bottle, the people still looking at the apple, the person imitating the ocean, the vagina and the remaining pieces of genius.
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