|Yoko Ono at Palazzo Badoer|
Yoko Ono (born February 18, 1933) is a Japanese artist and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking and for her marriage to John Lennon (1969–1980). Ono brought feminism to the forefront in her music. She is also known for her philanthropic contributions to arts, peace and AIDS outreach programs. Lennon called her "the most famous unknown artist in the world."
If you ask me what one of Yoko's greatest contributions has been, it would be the influence she had on John Lennon with respect to women. By demanding that one of the most powerful, individualistic men on earth -- and a rock star, at that -- create an equal partnership with a individualistic Japanese woman, well, that was a rare occurrence at a time when wives her age were still ironing their husband's handkerchiefs and sending them off to win some bread. Yoko changed John Lennon's attitude towards women, and by doing that, helped to pioneer a new era in women's rights.
Photo: Rolling Stone - Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage
Yoko Ono attends the opening of a David Croland exhibit
at Artworks Gallery in New York City
on November 13th, 1973
"Venice is a place that when I come here I always learn something. It's incredible. Incredible. You are standing in a difficult situation, in front of the sea. Maybe you enjoy the challenge. Maybe your ancestors enjoyed the challenge. I always get inspired when I come here. We have similar ways of working.
I allow people to work on my work. You allow the whole world to come here to participate. If you don't open yourself up you start to shrivel. People go to all the big countries. This is a very small island. The town is artistically perfect.
I would understand if you didn't let people come in here -- Don't touch! We want to preserve! -- You are trusting people not to destroy it. I do my art work in the same way. I do my project and call it unfinished, then ask people to add themselves to my work.
In the beginning, I was just a normal artist, wanting to protect my work. Then I thought, what if I ask people to add themselves to my work? Oh! I don't like that feeling! It was an artistic revolution, so I thought I must do it.
My artwork is a form of giving.
There are so many things I am understanding now that I've turned eighty. Don't be frightened to add years to yourself. There are so many things you didn't know.
Word is how we express ourselves. Word is very powerful. When you say "I love you" to someone, you say "I love you" to the whole world.
When you say, "I hate you," things will shrivel up.
When the whole world was hating me, sending me letters, I survived because I was in love with life.
When I was a young girl in elementary school, I saw a picture of an old Japanese warrior praying to the New Moon -- in the West you pray to the Full Moon, but in the East we pray to the New Moon... The old warrior said, give me Seven Troubles and Eight Sufferings so I can be a strong person and help the world. I said, my God, he's so courageous, I want to be like him. Then I forgot about it.
As I got older, my life was full of troubles. When my husband, John, passed away, I thought: I'm doing something wrong. I thought I was doing everything right. Then I remembered what I asked when I was a young girl. I thought: I have to change.
There is a word in Japanese that is in between lucky and happy. So I asked for Seven Lucky/Happy things and Eight Treasures.
I thought maybe you could use that in your life, too.
On behalf of all the foreign people, thank you for allowing us to show our work here. Your generosity is starting to make a dialogue, and it is a very healthy dialogue. So many countries are doing Biennales. But this was the first. It started here."
Someone then asked Yoko what her dream was.
"My dream is to have the world become better and better for all of us."
Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog