YOKO ONO EARNS A WIDE-RANGING, ALL-FEMALE SALUTE AT DISNEY HALL
Variety (March 23rd 2019):
“Yoko Ono was — is — nothing if not an artist of many facets, as someone who started out in the most avant-garde corners of the visual and performance art worlds and ended up having a flair for conventional pop songwriting. Both sides, the disrupter and the sentimentalist, were celebrated in a wide-ranging tribute concert Friday at L.A.’s Walt Disney Hall, where a cast of dozens of women participated in “Breathwatchlistentouch: The Work and Music of Yoko Ono,” as the 86-year-old artist looked on from a few rows back.”
“It was all-female, but not “all-star,” as Girlschool LA, which produced the show in collaboration with the L.A. Phil and the Fluxus Festival, drew on a satisfyingly eclectic mix of mostly local talent for the lineup. It did wrap up with a couple of big rock ‘n’ roll names. One was Garbage’s Shirley Manson, who chose a pair of songs that encapsulated Ono’s most angst-ridden and domestically tranquil sides. The other was St. Vincent, who eschewed music altogether in favor of a sexually explicit comedy bit — a puzzling performance that could only be understood as an attempt to re-embrace Ono as less of a cuddly figure and more of an OG provocateur.”
“As much as the show wanted to pay tribute to Ono’s envelope-pushing early years, it became clear from the late ‘70s onward that she really sought to be a uniter, not a divider, emphasizing messages of peace, hope and love over outlier art-world signifiers. And so the inevitable finale was an audience sing-along of “Imagine,” the Lennon song that Ono was recently officially given co-writing credit on, with Manson saying she was responsible for “the philosophy behind it and many of the ideas and I’m sure probably many of the lyrics. We’re going to sing her song, the song of the 20th century.”
Given the composition of the cast and crew honoring Ono as an ultimately triumphant underdog, there seemed to be an additional unspoken message: Imagine the future is female.”
Image: Maria Jose Govea For Girlschool
UNKNOWN FOOTAGE OF THE AMSTERDAM BED-IN RESURFACES, 50 YEARS SINCE THE EVENT
Hürriyet Daily News (April 2nd 2019):
“Fifty years after John Lennon and Yoko Ono famously staged a honeymoon “bed-in” for peace in an Amsterdam hotel, a Dutchman has unearthed 30 minutes of color footage of the event from his cellar.”
“The European leg of their honeymoon, which included an unusual press conference in Vienna with the glamour pair obscured inside a giant “bag,” was a huge media event, each step captured by photographers and videographers. This included a Dutch team shooting footage for a two-part, 84-minute documentary, a kind of video diary filmed at the pair’s request.
It was broadcast only once, shortly after the honeymoon, and shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival the same year before disappearing into the archives of broadcaster KRO, where Jan Hovers was employed in the 1980s.
During a major cleanup of used film reels, he stumbled upon a tin marked: “Mr. & Mrs. Lennon’s Honeymoon” among others earmarked for the rubbish heap.
“I asked if I could keep it and they said: ‘No problem, it will all be destroyed anyway’,” Hovers told the Nieuwsuur current affairs program broadcast April 1. He said he watched the footage with great pleasure, but then “forgot about it.”
Image: Gerry Deiter
“WEDDING ALBUM, ONCE AN ODDITY, NOW AN ICON”“
Hyperallergic (March 30th 2019):
“By the time John Lennon and Yoko Ono released their Wedding Album on the Beatles’ Apple Records label in late 1969, seven months after marrying in a low-key civil ceremony in the tiny, British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, the Liverpool-born Lennon, then one of the most famous rock stars in the world, knew that even his most off-the-cuff pronouncements would be gobbled up and analyzed by the media as emblematic reflections of the Zeitgeist.”
“Now, 50 years after Lennon and Ono, each fresh from a divorce, became husband and wife on March 20, 1969, the US-based labels Secretly Canadian and Chimera Music are jointly re-releasing Wedding Album, its vinyl-LP and compact-disc formats complete with faithful reproductions of the original vinyl record’s innovative packaging.”
“Throughout 1969, as the costly, aimless war in Vietnam dominated the headlines, Lennon and Ono were busy with collaborative artistic and musical projects, including the production of Wedding Album. It became the third of the experimental recordings they released in album form, following Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (1968) and Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions (1969), since they had first met in London three years earlier.”
“In a 2014 article in Gibraltar Magazine, Charlie Galliano, the clerk in the British territory’s Magistrates Court who oversaw their marriage proceedings, remembered that the Beatles’ manager, Peter Brown, had contacted him to schedule a date.
Galliano stated, “I was sworn to total secrecy, as the couple wanted to avoid press coverage with hordes of journalists and photographers.” On the day of the event, Lennon, Ono, Brown, and a sole, accompanying photographer arrived on a privately chartered airplane. Galliano recalled, “Although the doors of the marriage registry were open, no one attended, not even a single member of the media[,] such was the effect of the total news blackout.”
“In the pre-live-streaming era, the album’s unusual packaging offered the next best thing to having been at the artists’ secretive marriage ceremony. (It may also be seen as another example of the influence Ono brought to her collaborative projects with Lennon from the world of conceptual art, in which photographs, videos, audio recordings, and/or artist-published materials served as tangible documentation for many an ephemeral “happening” or site-specific piece. Earlier in her career, Ono and her fellow participants in Fluxus, an international community of avant-garde artists, had produced printed cards, posters, and other multiples, both as documentation and as art objects in themselves.)”
“On Wedding Album, Ono chats with a reporter who stops by the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam to check out his first-ever “Bed-In.”
“Let’s go back to the future,” she says, “which is mainly why we’re here [doing this event]. We want to talk mainly to young people all over the world, because those are the people who are going to be the next generation. They are going to be the next world. And we just want to say that we are with them.”