Posts Tagged ‘art’

The night we danced with Yoko : Yoko Ono, The Bluecoat, Liverpool, 4th April 2008

The night we danced with Yoko
Yoko Ono, The Bluecoat, Liverpool, 4th April 2008
yokobadgeI next saw Yoko Ono with Marie at a performance at the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool. Yoko Ono gave her first paid performance at the Bluecoat in 1967, around the time that she met John Lennon. When the Bluecoat was refurbished in 2008, Yoko returned to the new performance space to celebrate the reopening of the venue. Tickets for the one hour live event sold out in minutes and Yoko agreed to a live feed going into the Bluecoat hub and a big screen in the city centre.
yokoticketMarie and I arrived in plenty of time for the event, and joined the queue to enter the performance space, which has a capacity of 116. It was clear from discussions in the queue that Yoko fans had travelled from all over the world for the chance to attend. We were each handed an “Imagine Peace” badge and a small Onochord torch as we entered. The white torch was marked “Onochord Liverpool y.o. 2008”. Marie and I sat in the front row and waited for Yoko to arrive. Soon she entered the room, and stood in front of a large screen showing footage of her 1967 Bluecoat performance where she requested the audience wrap her from head to foot in bandages. “I’m 75 and I’m alive and very thankful to be here every day, and to still be in love with life, and with you” she told us. Yoko then left the room for a short period and returned wrapped in bandages, picking up from where she left off in 1967. She sat in a chair and invited us to unwrap the bandages. A few of us did so; I still have the bandages that Marie and I removed from her legs 🙂
At one point during the performance she sat at the chair and silently crocheted.yokotorchFootage of John and Yoko from the “bed-in” days followed; she later danced and rolled on the floor wailing to the video for her song Walking on Thin Ice, and showed a short documentary on her 2004 work Onochord. At that point we got to use the small torches, that we had been given when we came in. We were instructed to flash the torch towards Yoko three times to signify the three words “I LOVE YOU”. To close the performance she put on a top hat and asked us all to come down to the front and dance with her to a remix of Give Peace a Chance.” At one point Marie was holding hands with Yoko, dancing and twirling round.
yokochessYoko had one of her famous white chess sets beside her throughout the performance. This anti-war statement features white chess pieces on a totally white board; it was originally made for Ono’s exhibition at Indica Gallery, London, in 1966. “Yoko Ono’s White Chess Set, in which the opponents’ pieces, all white, sit on each side of an all-white board, [make] the warring factions indistinguishable from one another” (Wikipedia). At one point in the performance she threw the board to the ground, scattering the pieces all over the floor. When we started to dance with her, she said we could take the pieces and gave Marie the board. We also managed to pick up a few of the pieces. It makes a great reminder of the event, along with the bandages.
yokobandagesOn our way out, we were handed a booklet entitled “13 days do-it-yourself dance festival” which is a series of instructions and pictures as to how we might perform our own personal dance in our “mind” and that “each member of the dance, thus, will communicate with the other members by mental telepathy”. An incredible, amazing performance, which we will remember for ever.
Yoko Ono at the Bluecoat:
The Bluecoat:


Yoko Ono ‘In the time of shaking’ The Irish Museum of Modern Art 7th May 2004

Yoko Ono ‘In the time of shaking’ The Irish Museum of Modern Art 7th May 2004
shakingbookI’ve been a fan of Yoko Ono for some time. I think her influence on the music of John Lennon and the Beatles, and music in general, is often underplayed and, at worst, completely overlooked. I saw that Yoko had been invited by Amnesty, along with The Edge from U2, to open  the exhibition ‘In the time of shaking’ at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Yoko is a long time Amnesty supporter and in 2002 she gave them the rights to use John Lennon’s song “Imagine” in a campaign for human rights. At the time I was visiting Dublin once a month through work, so I fixed my next visit to coincide with the event. There was one remaining problem; the event was a private view with entry by invitation only. I emailed the Museum, asking for an invitation, and to my delight, a couple of days later I got a reply, inviting me to the event 🙂 .
The press release: “Yoko Ono will attend the Irish Museum of Modern Art and officially open one of the most exciting exhibitions of contemporary new Irish art to go on show in recent years. ‘In the time of shaking’ is a sale, exhibition and book involving over 100 of Ireland’s leading artists in support of human rights and the work of Amnesty International.. has been conceived and selected by Professor Ciarán Benson of University College Dublin, and members of the ‘Artists for Amnesty International 2004’  Committee…  Ciarán Benson explains the title to the show as follows: “I take the show’s title – In the time of shaking – from a phrase I remembered and liked in an old translation of Psalm 27.  ‘Shaking’ is a metaphor for ‘trouble’.
photo(134)I know Dublin quite well, but this was the first time I had been to the Museum of Modern Art. I took a bus and soon found the venue, which is set in beautiful gardens. People were already arriving; the opening of the exhibition was attended by 1,000 people. I had a couple of drinks and a few nibbles and wandered around the gardens and the exhibition, taking in some of the work, which was very impressive. Soon Bill Shipsey, chairman of Art for Amnesty, introduced The Edge. U2 have supported Amnesty for more than 20 years, and the Edge recalled attending the opening of the first Amnesty Irish offices in Dublin in 1984. ‘I’m proud of the way Ireland and Irish people have supported Amnesty ever since then.’ he said, ‘I’m also particularly pleased that this Irish initiative is spear-heading what will hopefully become a series of similar art exhibitions around the world that will raise money for Amnesty.’ Edge then gave a synopsis of Yoko Ono’s life, closing with “Yoko comes to Dublin. Yoko likes Dublin and Dublin likes Yoko”. He then asked Yoko Ono to officially open the exhibition. Wearing a black trouser suit, she emerged smiling (Irish Times, 2004).
photo(135)Yoko said “I am proud, pleased and happy to be here in Dublin today to open this wonderful exhibition which not only helps generate the support Amnesty needs but is providing a fund-raising model which we can use around the world. ‘John was very conscious of his Irish background. He was extremely proud of being Liverpool Irish, which gave him a sense of rebellion and inspired his poetry. I really think that his poetry definitely came from his Liverpool Irish heritage – tradition, beauty, sense of humour and word play all being strong Irish qualities.’
The crowd was a mix of those from the Irish art community, journalists and a sprinkling of fans of Yoko. One guy was right at the front of the crowd with his copy of “Grapefruit”, no doubt hoping for a signature. But there was no opportunity for autographs; as soon as Yoko had finished speaking she was ushered away, apparently to take a tour of U2’s studio.
It was great to see Yoko, albeit fleetingly. She spoke well, looked great, and came over as a charming lady. I even managed to take a few (not very good) photos, a couple of which I’ve included here , along with an image of the “In the time of shaking” book. I was so impressed that I wished I could see her in a performance setting, something which Marie and I did a couple of years later at the Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool, and which I’ll blog on tomorrow.
Yoko Ono Imagine Peace site:
Irish Museum of Modern Art:


Malcolm McLaren The Baltic Newcastle 13 November 2009

Malcolm McLaren The Baltic Newcastle 13 November 2009
I was seeped in rock music throughout the early days of punk, and caught all of the major punk gigs in the North East: The Pistols, The Clash, the Damned, the Jam, Vibrators, 999, Siouxsie, Ramones, Television, Iggy, Buzzcocks, and too many others to mention. So when I saw that Malcolm McLaren was coming to the Baltic Art gallery to present his new film and talk about his work I couldn’t resist getting tickets to go along and hear what he had to say. I was hoping for some insights into those great days which are fasting becoming fading memories. So Laura, David and I went to this event last Friday to hear what Malcolm had to say.
The evening had been sold out for some time and was held in the exhibition space in the Baltic, which holds around 300 people (I would guess). The main part of the evening was the first showing of Malcolm’s new film: Paris. Paris is in 21 sections; each section is a collage of old French commercials overlaid with McLaren speaking, singing and other music. After the film Malcolm was interviewed and then he took questions from the audience.
I usually enjoy most things that I go to and always look for the positives in a performance; and almost always find some. On Friday I am afraid I didn’t really see anything positive. The film seemed to go on forever and I’m afraid I either didn’t get it at all; or it really isn’t very good at all. Similarly, I didn’t enjoy the discussions with Malcolm, which focussed on his contributions to art over the years. I had been hoping for more insights into his role in the Sex Pistols and the emergence of Punk. Still it was interesting to see him, but not an experience I would wish to repeat.

The Baltic :


ticket / flyer for the event