Yoko Ono

en/trance at SECCA


Written by Jacqui Legere (Nov. 2002). Page three.

Yoko Q&A
McChesney Scott Dunn Auditorium
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston Salem, NC
November 5, 2002


While Kristine Stiles (Duke University professor) was speaking about Yoko's life/work, Yoko phoned for a Q&A. There were approximately 40 people at the screening and we had been given index cards to write down questions for Yoko. Kristine asked the questions and we were able to hear Yoko's answers via speakerphone. Yoko spent 45 minutes graciously answering all questions. Several times the phone connection was lost but Yoko called right back! The questions and answers are paraphrased, since I could not write fast enough to get everything word for word!

Q. Is there a Zen influence in your work?

A. Maybe in my blood. If there is, it isn't intentional.

Q. In the age of reality TV (Osbourne's, etc.), what would a remake of Rape look like?

A. I don't know. [She doesn't watch those shows.] But reality TV is different since they know they are in a documentary.

Q. Was it difficult to get the Fluxus films shown?

A. They didn't get shown! Except in arts festivals and so on.

Q. Are there any artists past/present you admire?

A. Me. [laughter]

Q. Did you ever make a film of John with a boner?

A. No.

She made some comment about how filmmakers respect each other and find things to be inspired by in each other's work - but I do not recall what the question was.

Q. Have the ideas for the films you've made come across on film the way you envisioned?

A. I am usually very happy with the results. I have been surprised by the anguish they've caused. And sometimes others interpret the film in a way I didn't realize.

Q. Did Fly turn out the way you intended?

A. Pretty much. It was difficult to film but recording the soundtrack was easy. I did the singing in one take. But the film, to get the flies on the body was difficult. It was filmed in one night. We started in the early evening and filmed till dawn. We completed the final take at dawn, which you see when the camera pans out from the room to the skyline.

Q. What role has your mental health played in your creativity?

A. That's assuming I'm mentally healthy now. [laughter]

Q. What are you exploring now?

A. Myself. [some things I didn't hear] I like to look at the sky, for reasons beyond my comprehension. [She made reference to the sky being her security blanket - she looked at the sky often during WWII.]

Q. What did you have for dinner?

A. Grapefruit juice with ginger, beans, fruit (persimmons).

Q. What technology was used to alter the film in "Blueprint for the Sunrise"?

A. The protest [footage shown in Blueprint] becomes an abstract memory. It is digitally altered and syncopated to music.

Q. There seems to be cubist imagery in the alteration?

A. Traditionally, reality jumps out of a painting, but in Blueprint this is reversed. [The painting is created from reality.]

[Yoko pauses to answer her doorbell.]

Q. In 1964, you imagined films for others to make. Did anyone do it?

A. No. But I have seen the idea elsewhere so its nice to know they influenced others.

Q. Will you be making those films?

A. No, but I will keep making films.

Q. What was it like to collaborate with DJ Spooky?

A. It was very interesting. He is very talented.

Q. How would you like to be remembered?

A. I would like to be remembered kindly.

Q. If you had one message to leave with the world, what would it be?

A. That the greatest struggle in your life is to have a wider perception of things.

Q. Are your films aesthetic or message driven?

A. However you want to take it.

Q. Do you feel you've made any sacrifices in the service of your art?

A. I didn't make any. Art is my life. I sacrificed my life for art and vice versa. Sacrifice is not the right word. Whatever I am into at the time is the inspiration for my next piece. I had no control over it.

Q. Did you influence John's music and vice versa?

A. We influenced each other. We were both very polite. We knew the other one was big headed so we were careful not to offend each other. We allowed each other to blossom.

Q. Was John as psychotic as Albert Goldman described?

A. Goldman had a different agenda. Maybe his publisher wanted something sensational.

Q. How do you feel when you see your earlier works?

A. Time is a man-made concept. I just appreciate what it is for what it is.

Q. How would you compare earlier films (Match Piece, Bottoms) with later films (Blueprint)?

A. It's like comparing apples and oranges. I don't look back so much. Film No. 4 was appropriate then, it affected society. I don't know how people see it now. The incredible weight of the film doesn't exist anymore.

Q. What role do artists play in political action?

A. There is the peace industry and the war industry. Artists creating without making a political statement *are* making a political statement. All of us are making political statements without knowing it.

Q. What is most needed in the art world now?

A. People creating work for the work's sake - not for monetary value or to sell it or for people to see it. When you make something, even if no one sees it, it affects the world.

Q. What do you think of artists who facilitate community action?

A. It's good. More people should be joining the Peace Corps and go around the world exchanging ideas. There are more people who are slaves now than back when slavery was part of everyday life. In some countries parents are being killed to steal the baby and make him join the army. You just have to do what you can and if we all do what we can things will improve.

Q. Over the years, has the audience's attention span increased or decreased?

A. People always wanted things three minutes long - now its 10 seconds. The world is getting faster, but to keep balance and sanity we need to slow down. Some people speed up while others slow down - it keeps the balance.

Q. You have been traveling a lot recently, do you like it?

A. I have traveled a lot this year. It started to bug me a little. But its ok because when my body is going fast my mind work against it and slows down. I keep a slow rhythm in my mind.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. Trying to be precise and correct in my answers. [laughter]

Q. "Yes?"

A. If we can all say Yes together the world would be a better place.

Q. [someone drew a heart with the word 'love' inside]

A. I love you.




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