Yoko Ono, Gustav Metzger and me…

Yoko Ono keeps popping into my life. Last week I was reading and commenting about her on the Old Rope blog. The piece in question particularly grooved me because it featured an embed of Ono’s Bottoms (AKA Four) from YouTube. Here’s a short extract from that blog followed by some of my comments:

“…Ono has taken more than her fair share of shit over the years.  Richard Di Lello’s The Longest Cocktail Party, whilst being an illuminating and entertaining insight into the world of Apple, also offers glimpses of the derision leveled at Ono – even from within the Beatles inner circle.

“Though far from perfect, it must be remembered that Ono’s art was challenging and (at times) part of a wider fluxus tradition. As a woman, as an artist and being, gasp, Japanese, Yoko took flak on all fronts…

“Mister Trippy says: I always thought Cut was the best thing Yoko did, the piece where she sits still and the audience cut off her clothes with a pair of scissors. Very powerful. But her work is variable and nothing else is as truly brilliant as Cut. I remember taking in her Whitney Museum show in New York in 1989 and she’d redone these fragile 1960s pieces in bronze, mind-bogglingly terrible. But great to see the Bottoms film again… I love that one too! Didn’t realise it was on YouTube… BTW Yoko is great fun too in her only ‘roughie’ softcore porn film Satan’s Bed from before she met Lennon.
“oldrope says: Agreed, Trip. Cut certainly makes the cut. I believe it was repeated in some form many years later, but that seems a trifle unnecessary in my book.
“I was also a little disappointed with Skyladders inside St Lukes in Liverpool (aka The Bombed Out Church – you actually have to sign a form on the way in saying they are not responsible if it falls in on your head) last year. Though I quite liked the ‘instruments’ for people to play with.
“At the risk of sounding cliched, I groove on her earlier work most.
“I’ve not seen Satan’s Bed, but it sounds like a good Saturday night in.
“Mister Trippy says: I agree with you about the ladders, about the only things I liked in that Liverpool Biennial were the moving trees, but that was coz I could watch local kids being naughty by repeatedly pressing the emergency stop button once they worked out where it was. And it was conveniently close to A Foundation where I was doing a performance. Still Yoko’s work in that Biennial was no worse than say Tracey Emin.
“If you like trashy films then Satan’s Bed is a real treat – out on DVD in the UK so not at all hard to find…. BTW: Did you know that both Yoko and me appear on the recent Intermedium Records double CD compilation Tribute To Gustav Metzger. But that’s the closest I’ve ever got to her….”
The Tribute To Gustav Metzger is also an example of an item missing from my Discogs discography (and indeed Yoko’s too), as discussed on my last blog. The Metzger tribute also features Melissa Logan from Chicks On Speed and was originally done for broadcast on Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bayern 2) in Germany on 12 December 2008. It was curated by Justin Hoffmann. So that’s two things from last year in which I shared a billing with Yoko (the Metzger tribute and the Liverpool Biennial). And right now both Yoko and me are two of more than 100 ‘artists’ from around the world featured in International Fluxhibition #3: Thinking Inside The Box at The Gallery in the E.H. Hereford University Center at the University of Texas at Arlington (on until 31 July). The show is made up mainly of contemporary takes on Flux boxes, and my contribution was accepted despite not meeting the brief. It is Score for Fluxhibition #3 – 2009:
“Don’t send a work to the Fluxshow.
Tell the curator it got lost in the post.
Do it again for the next one.
No art is the best art!”
Returning to Yoko, regardless of whether you do or don’t like the stuff she does now, what you can’t knock is her sincerity. She clearly likes to make and show art, and is as happy doing so in a small gallery as a prestigious Biennial. And while Yoko’s musical output over the years has been variable too, I even find it hard to knock her on this score when you consider that she and Lennon had the good taste to employ Elephant’s Memory as their backing band shortly after arriving in New York City. Let’s do the Power Boogie….
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by justin mckeown1 on 2009-07-22 12:08:31 +0000

I agree with you. For me, cut peice is the best of all her work. It’s interesting looking at the early performance works of some artists. I don’t know what to make about this current buzz round the Abramovich show in Mancester. It’s suppossed to be the 1st time artists have made durational performance simultanesouly, but I know people who’ve been doing it for decades. Are we about to see history being – if not rewritten – reorientated? You tell me art blogger man!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-07-22 13:58:39 +0000

Do a web search for Abramovich and you’ll get a lot more about Roman than Marina! And since I’m not a Chelsea fan and don’t get worked up about Roman Abramovich on that score, this for me is probably a good thing. Personally I think Marina Abramovich is a self-aggrandising, self-important and largely humourless waste of space (you can always laugh at her). The art world seems on the whole very unaware of its own history… and it is always boring when people get acclaimed for doing something first (not true in Abramovich’s case anyway) rather than for doing it best…. Gimmie Yoko or even Cosey Fanni Tutti over Abramovich any day!
For those that don’t know: Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich born on 24 October 1966 in Saratov, USSR) is a billionaire and the main owner of the private investment company Millhouse LLC. According to Forbes magazine, as of 11 March 2009, he had a net worth of US$8.5 billion, ranking him as the 51st richest person in the world. Prior to the financial crisis, he was considered to be the second richest person living within the United Kingdom. Early in 2009, The Times estimated that due to the global economic crisis he has lost £3 billion from his £11.7 billion wealth. He is also well known as the owner of Chelsea Football Club, and for his wider involvement in European football.

Comment by Simon Davies on 2009-07-22 15:03:50 +0000

You always serve up the best plate of baked beans Mr Home. I’m more in the hmm…Yoko yes camp than the Yoko oh no camp. I once blagged a room at the Hilton in Amsterdam, the location of John and Yoko’s hair piece performance. I rebelled in the 70’s. I grew my hair long and then cut it short.

Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2009-07-22 15:38:34 +0000

I’ve no strong opinions either way regarding Yoko, but d have issues with those who blame her for having a negative effect on John Lennon’s work, I don’t rate and besides as far as I can tell he was an arrogant tosser.

Comment by Corona Smith on 2009-07-22 16:03:07 +0000

I started following Yoko on Twitter, and then she started following me, THEN she sent me a message (generic but) and everyday she posts some delightful platitude (or gets her staff to), she’s like my Guru. But yeah vintage Yoko is best.

Comment by K MAIL on 2009-07-22 16:24:10 +0000

Yoko Ono and Gustav Metzger (smoke) rock!

Comment by Derek Woodgate on 2009-07-22 16:48:51 +0000

I went to Y E S YOKO ONO, the first American retrospective of her work at the Contemporary Arts museum in Houston. I like Sky Piece to Jesus Christ as it reminds me of Raymond Slocombe’s City of broken Dolls. I love her titles like “Glass Keys to Open the Skies”. Planning on going to Arlington this coming weekend.

Comment by Old Rope on 2009-07-22 19:02:11 +0000

Trip, you continue to be hip to my pysche – by “chance” yesterday I revisited Bill Drummond’s The17 project. It’s emphasis on deliberately leaving each performance of a score undocumented (or in some cases deleting a recording once it has been played back to the participants) set me thinking to both Metzger and the absence of art. Or to be precise, no art.
I would be interested to know what Gus makes of this, given that auto-destructive art is effectively a one trick meme, albeit one in various guises. Given the start and end points are no art, let’s get lazy and cut to the chase baby – skip the middle part, read the end of the book. Though Drummond suggested the work of The17 was original, I understand he has since recanted this and surely there are parallels with the funk of the auto-destructive rhythms. It is no coincidence that No Music Day has all the hallmarks of pop strike and art strike (and my own wank strike when I broke my wrist age 14).
I myself have been producing no art for years, ironically scabbing on numerous art strikes in the process. But I sprayed “scab bastard” on my front door and broke my legs by way of compensation – the only true act of autodestructive art I feel capable of in my quest for inauthenticity.
I would like to have seen Gus’ old pal Jean Tinguely’s ‘Homage To New York’ since I can totally relate to bashing oneself to pieces.
Then your “score” mentioned above stoked my fire, having just re-read several of Drummond’s own scores. The only logical thing to do was to spin some Elephant’s Memory, so that’s what I’m doing as I convalesce and eat grapes.

Comment by Old Rope on 2009-07-22 19:24:21 +0000

Forgot to say, “Yoko Ono, Gustav Metzger and Me” sounds like a groovy Roald Dahl style children’s book with illustrations by Quentin Blake. Perhaps he could paint them with acid, whilst on acid, then the book would dissolve but become auto-creative art in the process. It would also dissolve your children at the same time (or at least their hands) making them a living part of the work. I have already pre-ordered a copy of this on Amazon. Get busy writing it, Trip.

Comment by Will Self on 2009-07-22 19:48:25 +0000

Yoko ono is overrated, will self is better.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-07-22 21:04:11 +0000

Hey Old Rope, I was actually thinking of Martin Millar’s 2002 novel “Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me” when I came up with the title – but I guess he isn’t so far off Dahl… The 17 is a big read… And Bill obviously doesn’t think we should be getting with Elephant’s Memory. I bought “Power Boogie” when I was like 10 or 11 years old coz I loved it… Although the Apple album isn’t as good as the first, but “Power Boogie” has a special place in my heart….

Comment by raymond anderson on 2009-07-22 22:36:33 +0000

Is Jayne Casey formerly of Pink Industry involved with A Foundation?
I enjoyed some work she did a few years back getting communal digital public broadcast television into some Merseyside estate. Beats CCTV in the lifts, though they can be good promo vids if you ask the Concierge nicely.

Comment by Simon Strong on 2009-07-22 23:34:25 +0000

I reckon ‘Fly’ (1970) is well worth a viewing… It used to be on ubu.com – the freaky surprise ending is a mindblast!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-07-23 00:14:23 +0000

Raymond, not sure about Jayne Casey and A Foundation but she’s all over Liverpool arts… I got a message about stuff she was doing a day or two ago but can’t remember the exact content, some artist project with community involvement as far as I recall, but since I wasn’t convinced I wanted to go for the artists jobs that went with it I junked it…
Simon – if “Fly” is half as good as your anti-novels it will definitely be a mindblast!

Comment by Simon Strong on 2009-07-23 00:59:47 +0000

Here’s the links for punters too lazy for google:
There’s heaps cool audio toooo…
with slop from Fluxus anthology and Aspen mag!
Did ya know that I wanted to call our last record (the one w/ yr sleeve notes) ‘the approximately infinite wisdom of the pink stainless tail’ inna Yoko tribute stylee? Sadly, Harry thought it was stupid and I got voted down. Now, on to forming the Australian Yoko Ono Show. ‘Sinevitable…

Comment by Joan Webster on 2009-07-23 09:10:24 +0000

One of the Yoko pieces I find most interesting was her non-performance in Wales:
‘About 100 people, mainly art students, had turned up for the ‘personal appearance and film’ of Miss Ono, sponsered by the 56 Group of Welsh artists – ‘with the encouragement of the Welsh Arts Council,’ one member claimed.
By 7.30 p.m. the advertised starting time, there were about 35 in the auditorium, which can hold more than 400. The polished narrow rather austere stage was bare except for a grand piano and stool. The back wall was draped with pale blue velvet curtains.
We sat and stared at this until 7.45 p.m. by which time the audience had increased to around 100. Then Mr. Keith Richardson Jones, lecturer at Newport College of Art, rather nervously placed a huge photograph of the elusive Miss Ono on the keyboard of the piano. One hardy soul clapped; there were a few embarrassed laughs; and we settled down to wait once more. A little later, Mr. Jones sheepishly produced a type-written notice which read: ‘Attention! To: Fly. Yoko Ono, June 14, 1968.’
(Jon Holliday, South Wales Echo, 15 June 1968’ [from What’s Welsh for Performance: http://www.performance-wales.org/english/index.htm%5D
Ian Breakwell, when he was doing shows with Gustav and the likes at Bristol Art Centre in the late 60’s, said that he refused to book Yoko because of this kind of stunt…

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-07-23 13:56:19 +0000

Maybe that’s where Gustav got the idea of doing an Art Strike!

Comment by Joan Webster on 2009-07-23 14:25:57 +0000

Probably not far out – perhaps you should start a Yoko Art strike…

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-07-23 21:36:33 +0000

Or maybe a Yoko Strikes Back Against Her Critics movement… While I like some of her art, and don’t like other examples of it all, let’s see people making proper critical appraisals of it rather than just bitching about Ono coz she ain’t a white male centred subject…

Comment by Old Rope on 2009-07-24 10:34:48 +0000

Amen Trip. Although I for one will play no part in it. My blog is already looking like some freaked out Ono shrine as it is. I blame the cat.
Your oldest of ropes,
Old Rope

Comment by Old Rope on 2009-07-24 10:37:38 +0000

Incidentally, Amen Trip sounds like a freaky 60s psyche group. Scour those record shops for their only LP “Funky Nora and the Amen Trip – Live at Prestatyn Working Men’s Club 1968” it’s a heavy groove sensation!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-07-25 22:30:29 +0000

Od Rope. It must be up on the web some place too.
Simon. When I checked Fly at Ubu Web I realised I’d seen it before…..

Comment by Michael K posing as Nicole Black on 2009-07-26 02:08:26 +0000

I am the resurrection!

Comment by Nicole Black posing as Michael K on 2009-07-26 02:10:02 +0000

I should never have tidied up my CD collection. I need a torch.

Comment by Stewart Home posing nude with Nicole Black & Michael K on 2009-07-26 03:16:45 +0000

Threesomes are hotta than couples!

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