’Light of Dawn’: Yoko Ono displaces time and convention with French retrospective

’Light of Dawn’: Yoko Ono displaces time and convention with French retrospective

Most of us will be familiar with the beguiling images of Yoko Ono and Beatles-superstar John Lennon, bed-bound in protest against the Second Indochina War of the late 1960s. However, upon reaching world-wide fame, Ono was cast aside as a hanger-on and it took years for the obscure, bird-eyed creature from the Japanese aristocracy to be recognised as a stand-alone artist.  

Contributing to the rise of performance art with her notorious Instruction Paintings, Yoko Ono creates ’beginnings’ with instructions for how they should be finished by others (by anyone). In sharing her works, she moulds the role of viewer, artist and artwork into one, displacing time and convention.

’By pushing the plastic quality of art to the point of invisibility, to a mere shout, by using the body, by identifying with the present and the incomplete, and by inviting all and sundry to join in and create or interpret her scores, she was effectively writing a new page in the history of art,’ says Thierry Raspail, co-curator of a new Mac Lyon retrospective on Ono’s expansive practice, entitled ’Light of Dawn’.

Following major shows at New York MoMA and Museum of Contemporary Art of Tokyo, ’Light of Dawn’ is Ono’s first retrospective to be held in France. Spanning the period of 1952–2016, the 3,000 sq m space is host to a fragmented display of sound that ’radiates from all the walls’, texture and light that nags the imagination to complete and ’practise’ works such as the Perspex AMAZE installation and Play It By Trust chess tables, where it’s precisely the infinite possibility in the uncreated that is key.

Occasionally criticiesd for a transience mistaken for lack of direction, Ono still brims with a relentless assurance in ambling along a wholly undefined path – but it is out of this unyielding free spirit that, nevertheless, a structure slowly begins to emerge.

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