I’d like to draw awareness to all the violence that is happening all over the world.
Currently on view at Haunch of Venison in Berlin is “Das Gift,” an exhibition by Japanese-American artist Yoko Ono. The show features sculpture, sound, film, and new interactive installations guided by instructions. The exhibition’s focal point is “Hole,” a pane of glass pierced by a bullet paired with written instructions to “Go to the other side of the glass and see through the hole.” Spectators then have the opportunity to experience the perspective of both the aggressor and the victim.
More text and images after the jump…
Ono began her work with conceptualism and instruction-based art in the 1950s. In 1964 she published Grapefruit, a book of works incorporating these methods. The current exhibition integrates conceptual, performance and instruction-based art. By using such participatory methods, she elicits empathy from the viewer, allowing them contemplate violence, but also love and healing.
“I ask the people who come and visit the exhibition to bring something of their own personal experience with violence: a picture, or a text, that will then be placed on the gallery wall. In the upper floor, however, there will be a room where one only smiles,” said Ono of the installation.
Yoko Ono ‘Das Gift’ at Haunch of Venison, Berlin, via Reuters
Other works in the exhibition include German helmets which hang from above, each containing jigsaw-like pieces of “sky,” a collection of coats with bullet holes worn by people who were shot, and a sound recording of screaming birds which echos throughout the gallery, providing a hauntingly-violent sonic backdrop. There is also a room upstairs where one is only permitted to smile in front of a camera. The photos taken of the smiling visitors are then projected onto the wall in what Ono calls, “a projection for peace.” Visitors can also take part in the “healing process.” They can work together to patch up a ripped canvas or sweep the remains of a shattered jar on the floor.
The title “Das Gift,” which means “poison” in German, refers to both the German and English meanings of the word. “It’s about the poison of the world which may be a “gift” to us as well. When you expose your memory of pain and violence, and other people look at it, it becomes more positive,” said the artist in an interview with Reuters.
Yoko Ono’s husband John Lennon was murdered nearly thirty years ago in New York City.
Exhibition Page [Haunch of Venison]
Yoko Hopes to Heal Violence with Berlin Exhibition [Reuters]
Radical New Installation by Yoko Ono at Haunch of Venison in Berlin [Artdaily]
Yoko Ono Seeks Healing Amid Violence [MSNBC]
Hail, Hail, Rock’n’Roll [The Guardian]