I have a lot to learn from women in India: Yoko Ono

Some will always regard her as the woman who broke up the Beatles. But Yoko Ono is also an artist with her own striking vision. Her first art exhibition in India opens in Delhi today.

hidden January 13, 2012 12:14:01 IST

by Fahad Shah

Yoko Ono made waves when along with husband John Lennon she wrote a song as provocative as  “Woman is the nigger of the world.” Now she is in India to pay tribute to the Indian woman, as an artist. Her first art exhibition in India, Our Beautiful Daughters opened today in the capital and runs till 10 March at the Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi.

Ono, 78, beamed with happiness as she talked about her Indian experience . "I do not remember exactly in which year we (Ono and Lennon) came here. It was definitely after the four men (the Beatles) came here. Eventually John and I had come here together. I am very happy to be here," Ono told reporters at the Vadehra Art Gallery in the city.

As an artist, Ono has always caused a stir. Many remember her for her ‘bed-ins for peace’ during the Vietnam War.  In this exhibition the major attraction is Remember Us, an installation created in collaboration with a women’s crafts group from Bikaner. Six other instruction-based artworks including My Mommy Is Beautiful, Soprano are also part of the exhibition. "It is fantastic that India has already woken up to women in the art field. I have to learn a lot from them about what is happening in India," Ono said.

The work also includes her famous Wish Tree, an interactive project where  people can write their wishes on a piece of paper and hang it on a tree. The one in New Delhi has been put at the American Centre in Connaught Palace where a tree has small notes with wishes like Peace, Live Happily written over them. There are Yoko Ono: Our Beautiful Daughters postcards where visitors can write message to Ono. The wishes from the trees at various venues in the capital will all go to the Imagine Peace tower, a memorial for Lennon created by Ono in 2007 on the Viðey Island in Iceland.

I have a lot to learn from women in India Yoko Ono

The avant-garde artist's "wish tree" at an art exhibition in Montreal in April 2009. Ono, in Delhi for her maiden exhibit, has her famous Wish Tree on display at the American Centre in Connaught Palace. Reuters

As she tagged her wish on a tree in Delhi Ono said that a wish tree is a very Japanese idea. “When I began to do it I became very humble. I didn't want to do it in the traditional way and wanted it to be in a very Yoko Ono way. When I first did in Los Angeles there was not much response but in Spain it generated a fantastic response. It was incredible and there were more and more wish trees."

The series will  also include a parallel exhibition, The Seeds which showcases Ono's earlier work both her own and collaborations with Lennon and other artists. It includes a photograph published in the 1970 edition of the Grapefruit and a video — both of which show Cut Piece —  another controversial piece of art by Ono which has been performed by her all over the world. In it Ono asks the audience to come up on the stage, one by one, and cut a portion of her clothing (anywhere they like) and take it. During a performance in Paris in 2003, Ono wrote, “When I first performed this work, in 1964, I did it with some anger and turbulence in my heart. This time I do it with love for you, for me, and for the world. Come and cut a piece of my clothing wherever you like, the size of less than a postcard, and send it to the one you love.”

The exhibit also includes photographs of her performing other pieces such as  Mend Piece, Audience Piece, Music Walk with John Cage, Lighting Piece. It also has some digital print posters of the Ono’s and her husband’s work, War Is Over! (If you want it).  She has also done a piece on India called India Map Piece which is on display. There will be a live performance, To India With Love by Ono, at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre on January 15.

Yoko, a campaigner for world peace, said that with her India show she wants to extend her campaign for world peace. "Women have a unique nurturing quality. The men however feel that they can express power best in politics, legalese, creating war. The struggle for world peace and struggle for women power is parallel now. When we create a society of freedom, justice and peace we will have world peace."

Watch the CNN-IBN report on the artist:

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