Friday, May 3, 2019

Fondation Phi pour l'art contemporain presents GROWING FREEDOM by Yoko Ono

I follow Yoko Ono on Twitter. After visiting GROWING FREEDOM at Fondation Phi pour l'art contemporain and listening to the curators I felt it quite appropriate to publish this tweet by the artist. 
FRANÇAIS app de traduction à gauche

Most of us have known about Yoko Ono for most of our lives, regardless of our age. Although she has gained international fame through her relationship with Beatle John Lennon and the creative actions they have taken together to protest war, I remained oblivious to her own experience of war as a child. This exhibition revealed a profound level of the artist, of her motivation and the origins of her art. 

The curators, Gunnar B. Kvaran and Cheryl Sim, have outlined Yoko Ono's brilliant education underlining the fact that she came from a prominent family that respected her as a girl even though Japan at that time, like most of the world, was male biased. She is described has already possessing the willfulness of the artist at a young age. Although the family had travelled extensively, they were in Japan for most of WW II. They had to beg and sell their possessions for food. 

For me, this episode in her childhood is the signature of her life work. As you visit the exhibition, that is divided in three major segments, you will recognize the impact war had on her and her work.
John & Yoko talking about the 1969 bed-in. Add caption
As a child Yoko Ono studied music and was enrolled in the most prestigious schools in Japan and the United States. When Japan became involved in the Second World War, the family had just returned from a stay in the US. Since her family was wealthy they had a bunker where they could escape the bombings but no one could escape hunger as the living conditions deteriorated daily. Her suffering was augmented by the relentless human destruction and misery that surrounded her. I asked the curators to tell me what they knew about how WW II impacted her and how this is reflected in the exhibition.

 The curators: Gunnar B. Kvaran, Cheryl Sim and Caroline Andrieux Photos © Lena Ghio, 2019 
Gunnar B. Kvaran has written many books about Yoko Ono including Yoko Ono: Growing Freedom that accompanies the exhibition and in which Cheryl Sim is co-author. In response to my question he said:
" She saw a lot of suffering as a child. She then developed a profound compassion for the suffering of people, especially children. We see that in her lifelong motivation to end war. "

Cheryl Sim spoke of games she would play while in the bunker with her young siblings. 
" The children used to play games where they would give each other various instructions to carry out. Her conceptual art practice is about giving the public instructions like look at the sunset while feeling the Earth move or laugh for an entire week. "

Caroline Andrieux added: " The children were very hungry. They also played "Imagine" games. They would imagine eating a tuna fish sandwich while on an empty stomach. "

Those three statements account for a lifetime of work by the artist.

Approach your visit to this exhibition with a spirit of creative collaboration as you will be invited to add to the art as well as observe the impact of those that came before you. This creates its own magical atmosphere. For me art is magic. As usual  Foundation Phi has many educational and participative activities. May 25 2019 you can visit the exhibition with curator Cheryl Sim but you must reserve your place at or 514 849-3742. If you enjoy yoga, there are four more sessions available for Yoga for Peace Sessions by Luna Yoga. Again you must reserve your place at the previous coordinates.
The exhibition is ongoing until 15.09.2019
My wish: PEACE photo © Lena Ghio, 2019

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