Reading Yoko Ono’s “Grapefruit” at the MOMA Showing

by Rachel Baker on May 31, 2015

This is more of an art article than a literature article, but, I thought it would work here at Old Musty Books. I’m not sure how the world views Yoko Ono, but I think she’s an incredibly interesting creature for a multitude of reasons I may get into in a later post.

Here is a review of the MOMA showing and their decision to devote an entire gallery to Ono’s book “Grapefruit”, and why this decision worked.

Here’s the article:Peel, Peek, Touch, Rub: Reading Yoko Ono’s “Grapefruit”

Any collective as puckish and as taken with impermanence as Fluxus naturally flirts with the loss of primary-source documentation. It’s precisely this inevitable erasure that makes MOMA’s decision to devote an entire gallery to a single Ono book—“Grapefruit,” her 1964 compendium of conceptual-art instructions—feel so crucial and rewarding.

Seeing the original edition is rare enough: copies of the first printing have been scarce for decades. (At the exhibit, all the pages from an early copy are posted around the perimeter of a large gallery). But something remarkable happens when Ono’s manuscript is placed alongside her paintings and sculptures: at last, we have a chance to see the continuum of Fluxus-era artistic practice in full, incorporating everything from an initial idea to the provisional executions of that same thought. We don’t have to lament the loss of “hard” objects such as paintings or sculptures—those are in the next room over. The viewer is asked to hold both the notional sketch and the “finished product” in mind, without choosing one over the other. This gets to the heart of what Ono and some members of the Fluxus movement were up to.

The original “Grapefruit” is split into five sections—Music, Painting, Event, Poetry, Object—with each page offering a conceptual direction for work yet to be created. Some of the restrained, Zen-like commands (such as “Leave a piece of canvas or finished painting on the floor or in the street”) had already been realized, by Ono, at the time of the book’s original publication. Many others, including most of the musical “event scores,” were not documented prior to the book’s release (or at least they were not documented in any publicly known form). After Ono married John Lennon, Simon & Schuster published a new edition of “Grapefruit,” though this version included some editorial revisions and additions—the most prominent among the latter being a short foreword authored by Lennon.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter; or you can follow her at The Crafty Veteran on Bloglovin

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Amazon Wish ListEvernoteFlipboardInstapaperNewsVineSpringpadWordPressTypePad PostStumbleUponLiveJournalPocketRedditShare

Previous post:

Next post: