Monday, December 01, 2008

My Love Will Turn You On

After an infamous forty years in the contemporary art world, the legendary Yoko Ono arrived in Shanghai last week for the opening of her first exhibition in China. The show was certainly an event to remember, but not for the artwork. Presented at the Ke Center for contemporary art and curated by Ono herself, this retrospect of instructional works titled Fly attracted an outstanding number of visitors. On opening night at half past seven, a large crowd of individuals stood outside the museum in the drizzling rain. Some members of the audience were Western many were Chinese, some still in their work suits and others no more than two years of age all stood staring up at the rooftop while Yoko Ono herself chanted to the crowd 'I Love You'. She certainly had a strange way of showing it.

Following this performance, Yoko Ono made her way downstairs escorted by her body guards, while her fans stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the locked gallery doors. People started to murmur and grow restless as John Lennon's Imagine began to play from speakers around the courtyard with Yoko's monotone voice speaking over the audio. Suddenly the glass doors opened and the first group of people anxiously scrambled in. Soon there after the doors were shut again and security guards assumed their positions. It was another fifteen minutes before the next throng of people were admitted-- frustration building. After another thirty minutes of pushing and shoving the majority of people finally fought their way into the museum over hurtles of pesty wooden benches, which later turned out to be Yoko Ono's Ex It piece. Once inside viewers found themselves in a singular brightly lit room, a scarce amount of Yoko Ono's work distributed around the space. Her famous text pieces, The Blue Room Event, and more recent Wish Tree were all accounted for, not much else.

As usual the theme of this Yoko Ono show is love, and probably peace too. Perhaps the chaos outside the museum was intentionally orchestrated so that fans would have a new found appreciation for their own lives when they finally made it across the boarder to safety. It certainly made for great publicity though. The initial excitement was impressive--a seemingly ingenious tactic of corraling individuals and building anticipation. Sadly the reward was disappointing and my love for Fly, ultimately fleeting.

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