Yoko Ono, Smile Film No. 5, 1968, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, FLY, 1970, Directed by Yoko Ono, Film still, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono with installation: Sky Ladders, 2007, in exhibition Sognare, Museo di Santa Caterina, Treviso, Italy, Photo by Stephan Crasneanscki/© Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono Brings New #smilesfilm Project to Serpentine

Yoko Ono, FLY, 1970, Directed by Yoko Ono, Film still, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, FLY, 1970, Directed by Yoko Ono, Film still, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, Smile, 2010, © Yoko Ono.


Serpentine Gallery
Kensington Gardens
+ 44 (0)20 7402 6075
Yoko Ono
June 19-September 9, 2012

The Serpentine’s exhibition reflects on the impact that Yoko Ono has made on contemporary art, exploring her influential role in art, music, film and performance. Her first exhibition in a London public institution for more than a decade, Ono will present new and existing works, some of which have rarely been shown in the UK. These winclude installations, films and performances, as well as architectural alterations to the galleries.

As a part of her exhibition, Ono will present #smilesfilm, a large-scale project exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery and online for the London 2012 Festival. Conceived as a way of connecting people across the world, the project invites people to upload and send an image of their smiles, to create a global anthology of portraits.

Yoko Ono said: "People from cities and countries around the world will be able to freely upload and send their smiles by mobile phone and computer to the world and it’s people. Each time we add our smiles to •#smilesfilm•, we are creating our future, together. Give us your smile! I love you!"

Working as an artist, filmmaker, poet, musician, writer, performance artist and peace activist for over five decades, Yoko Ono has influenced generations of artists and received numerous prestigious awards. In her prolific career, she has embraced a wide range of media, defying traditional boundaries and creating new forms of artistic expression. Born in 1933 in Tokyo, she is a pioneer of conceptual art. Her work has been presented internationally in major exhibitions and performances.

Yoko Ono at the Serpentine Gallery is part of the London 2012 Festival, a 12-week UK-wide celebration featuring world leading artists from Midsummer’s Day June 21 to the final day of the Paralympic Games on September 9, 2012.

Yoko Ono, Smile, 2010, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, Apple (withered state), 1996, Photo by Iain Macmillan, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, FLY, 1970, Directed by Yoko Ono, Film still, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, AMAZE, 1971, Installation View, This Is Not Here, Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY, 1971, Photo by Iain Macmillan, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, Poster for Works by Yoko Ono performance, Carnegie Hall, 1961, © Yoko Ono. Photograph by George Maciunas.

Yoko Ono, FLY, 1970 (film still), © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, New Instructions and Drawings from Grapefruit

Yoko Ono, 13 Days Do-It-Yourself Dance Festival for Oslo. Broadcast at NRK Radio P2, Kulturbeitet, January 24-February 9, 2005, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, 13 Days Do-It-Yourself Dance Festival for Oslo. Broadcast at NRK Radio P2, Kulturbeitet, January 24-February 9, 2005, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, 13 Days Do-It-Yourself Dance Festival for Oslo. Broadcast at NRK Radio P2, Kulturbeitet, January 24-February 9, 2005, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, Grapefruit, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1970, orginally published in 1964, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, Earth piece, 1963. Published in Grapefruit, 1964.© Yoko Ono.


Moderna Museet
Exercisplan 4
+ 08-619 552 00
Yoko Ono: Grapefruit
June 6-September 16-2012

Yoko Ono is a pioneer of conceptualism and the international Fluxus movement, and has been sharing her message of peace and love with the world for nearly 60 years. The Moderna Museet exhibition highlights Yoko Ono’s book Grapefruit from 1964 and features selected instruction pieces that encourage new, imaginative ways of looking at life and creating art. For the exhibition Yoko Ono has made a new piece called Summer Dream and a new instruction piece, that some 20 artists have been invited to respond to. Moreover, Yoko Ono will realise two of her works together with the public on Djurgården in Stockholm during the full-moon night between 4 and 5 June.

Grapefruit is a seminal collection of texts, so-called instruction pieces, and has been reprinted in many editions since 1964.

"I named my first book of instructions with the name of the fruit I loved. Grapefruit is a hybrid of orange and lemon and to me, it represented East and West, the two cultures in my life which gave the instructions the power of the Universe. Have fun with it."

— Yoko Ono

In the 1950s, Yoko Ono had already begun experimenting in the borderland between music, performance, poetry and visual art. She used the concert and event formats as a place where the audience was encouraged to enact her ideas, or simply to think and develop them in their own minds. With a background in classical music composition and studies in philosophy, Yoko Ono began writing “scores” for art, that is, instructions that could be interpreted again and again by audiences and colleagues. In each new context, new expressions and nuances arise, depending on who is doing it and where. Yoko Ono’s practice is therefore a unique prelude to conceptualism, which emerged in the 1960s. In an era of radical change, artists were eschewing the notion that art was primarily physical objects to be produced and consumed. They challenged the traditional art concept and began working with ideas, sounds, actions and time as artistic materials. Language became a key element.

"Grapefruit is undoubtedly one of the world’s ten best artist’s books. It has everything — humour, poetry and breathtaking, inspiring ideas. With her experimental films and instruction pieces, Yoko Ono is a unique voice in 1960s avant-garde art. And as a woman and conceptual artist, she is a strong role model for a new generation of artists", says Cecilia Widenheim, curator of the exhibition.

One of Yoko Ono’s most famous instructions is Cut Piece from 1964, which the artist herself has performed on several occasions. The enacted situation consists of Yoko Ono sitting on a stage before an audience, with a pair of scissors in front of her, inviting the audience to cut pieces from her clothing. Filmed documentations of Cut Piece, from 1965 and 2003 and several of Yoko Ono’s legendary Fluxfilms will be shown in the exhibition at Moderna Museet. Yoko Ono’s films have a unique position in 1960s experimental film-making. Several of them are based on instructions published in Grapefruit— for instance, the film No. 1 (Match), which is based on the text Lighting Piece from autumn 1955: “Light a match and watch till it goes out.”

For the exhibition at Moderna Museet, Yoko Ono has written a new instruction, Search for the Fountain. The text has been sent to some 20 artists who have been invited to respond to the text in various ways. Search for the Fountain is a distinct example of how Yoko Ono intentionally lets the materialisation of her artistic ideas lie open to interpretation, but also how she assumes that viewers will handle and reinterpret the concept from their own perspectives. The partcipating artists are Julieta Aranda (Berlin), Ruth Buchanan (Berlin), VALIE EXPORT (Vienna), Lucie Fontaine (Milan), Simone Forti (Los Angeles), Hreinn Fridfinnsson (Amsterdam), Jean-Jacques Lebel (Paris), Maria Lindberg (Gothenburg), J O Mallander (Kisko), Pratchaya Phinthong (Bangkok), Emily Roysdon (Stockholm), Hinrich Sachs (Stockholm/Basel), Tris Vonna Michell (Stockholm), Judi Werthein (Miami) and students from Städelschule, Frankfurt.

The exhibition was produced by Moderna Museet.

Curator of the exhibition is Cecilia Widenheim.

Yoko Ono, Painting To Be Stepped On (page detail), 1960. Published in Grapefruit, 1964. © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, Voice Piece for Soprano. Performed by the artist., 1961, © Courtesy of Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono at Djurgården, March 2012, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono at Djurgården, March 2012, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, Yoko Ono, 2009, © Photo by Synaesthete, 2009.

Yoko Ono, SkyLadder.

Yoko Ono, Coffin Car (originally titled Riding Piece), Black coffin car, 1962-2008, (Mercedes Benz 220, 1971) with instruction printed on each side of the car, driver.

Yoko Ono: Freedom Between the Sky and My Head, 1961-Present

Yoko Ono, War is Over.

Yoko Ono, Imagine Peace Tower, Videy Island, Reykjavik, Iceland, August 2008.


Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead Quays
South Shore Road
+ 44 (0)191 478 1810
Yoko Ono: Between the Sky and My Head
December 14, 2008-March 15, 2009

Yoko Ono is one of the pioneers of conceptual art and has an international exhibition career spanning nearly 50 years. From Sunday 14 December, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art will present Yoko Ono: Between the Sky and My Head, comprising work by Yoko Ono from 1961 to the present.

The exhibition, one of the largest exhibitions of Yoko Ono’s work to date, is a major collaborative project with Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany, and occupies two floors of Baltic with additional works located outside the gallery.

Yoko Ono has a strong and irrepressible desire for freedom. This desire can be immediately recognised in her Imagine Peace billboards which will be located in prominent locations.

Ono’s Wish Trees invite visitors to express their hopes and dreams by writing wishes on paper and hanging them on Wish Trees installed close to Baltic. These wishes will be gathered at the end of the exhibition, and sent to the Imagine Peace Tower in Videy Island, Iceland, to join the rest of the wishes from around the world. Another work, SkyLadder — which might be read as an allegory for the exhibition’s title, Between the Sky and My Head — invites us to consider an imaginary, spiritual space centred between the sky and earth.

Inside Baltic, the exhibition will cover more than 1400 square metres of gallery space containing sculpture, paintings, drawing, photography, films and sound installations, as well as participation works.

Among the 50 works featured in the exhibition is Play it by Trust, a conceptual chess set, made from white Italian Carrara marble. A version of the work was first exhibited in London at Ono’s legendary exhibition at the Indica Gallery in 1966.

Another work, My Mommy is Beautiful, is a participatory piece in which visitors to Baltic are invited to bring photographs of their mothers, along with thoughts and memories about their mothers, to be permanently attached to the blank canvases. At the conclusion of the exhibition, the filled canvases will be sent to the artist in New York.

Yoko Ono: Between the Sky and My Head is accompanied by a 208-page exhibition catalogue edited by Thomas Kellein, director of the Kunsthalle Bielefeld, published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne and will be available from Baltic Shop.

Yoko Ono, born in 1933 in Tokyo, is one of the pioneers of Conceptual Art. In 1952, she became one of the first women in Japan to study philosophy. In 1953 she took composition courses at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, and studied creative writing at Harvard. In the mid-1950s, Yoko Ono lived in New York City, where she knew John Cage, and many other artists and composers.

In 1960, she rented a loft on Chambers Street, and together with La Monte Young, organized a series of concerts, attended not only by young musicians and artists, including Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Fluxus founder George Maciunas, but also by Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Peggy Guggenheim, and Isamu Noguchi.

As a young artist, Ono left New York in 1962 in order to return to Japan. During this period she performed several concerts with John Cage and the pianist David Tudor. In the same year at the So¯getsu Art Center in Tokyo, she began hanging texts as artworks, instead of the pictures she had shown in 1961 at the AG Gallery in New York.

Her work in conceptual art manifested in the famous collection of works, Grapefruit, which she first published herself on July 4, 1964 in Tokyo. It went on to be published in numerous editions. Some of the works in it date back to the early 1950s.

The book divided her oeuvre into chapters dealing with music, painting, happenings, poetry, and objects, documenting her affinity for all categories of art. To this day, she continues to move forward in unexplored territories in her art.

Yoko Ono & Arata Isozaki, Penal Colony Realizaton Image, 2006, Photo Jeffrey Debany.