This article 1st appeared in The Price’s Do DC – 02.18.2014
This month we’ve seen a new British Invasion of media about the Beatles almost the same as that which also exploded when John, Paul. George, and Ringo first set foot in American in February of 1964. We had the Grammy tribute concert celebrating the Beatles’ historic first performance 50 years ago on the Ed Sullivan Show. Then, of course, there was the re-creation of the band’s 35-minute, 12-song, first American concert right here in DC.
Well, in the event you are in the DC area and you aren’t yet Beatled out, you can head to the Hirshhorn Museum to check out art work by one of the most important non-Beatle players in the Beatles’ story – Yoko Ono.
In 1969, one year before the Beatles broke up (at the time, and even today, there are fans who blame Ono for the dissolution of the Fab Four), John Lennon married Yoko and the pair remained united in their art and music until Lennon was tragically gunned down in 1980 outside the couple’s apartment in New York City.
Ono’s work is included in the exhibition Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950. The exhibit features creations from artists influenced by the fear and uncertainty caused by the threat of imminent annihilation posed during the immediate decades following World War II and the anxiety that still resides in our contemporary world today.
Ono appeared at the museum to discuss her work, and naturally, she spoke much of her relationship with John and how they influenced each other.
“I didn’t wish for it, but I met John and my whole life changed,” Ono said. During much of their time, both in music and art, the couple delivered a blistering critique of the social conditions of the 60s and 70s.
“People would ask – ‘what is she doing here’ and I would say trying to make it a peaceful world,” Ono told the crowd of art and Beatles lovers.
“With John’s assassination, I know the pain that people go through,” she said. “But we can survive all this together. I know we can if we use our brains. We all have brains. They think they can control us but we can change the hate to love and the war to peace. We just need a clear, logical head to know what is going on.”
“We think ‘I shouldn’t do this’ – but if all of us stand up it will be very difficult to beat us. They (the oppressors) will be very lonely. They won’t even have servants,” she added.
“Not too many people choose to be activists. Well, John and I were activists. Today people ask me – ‘Yoko, are we going to have doomsday (which is a recurring motif in the Damage Control exhibit)?’ I say, well it is up to us. If we are all so dumb, we will,” Ono said.
Now 81 years old and having spent more than 30 years without John, Ono acknowledges that she has changed. For one thing, she focuses much more on her Japanese past and her ancestors. “I thought I was escaping that and being a rebel. But today, I know family history is important.”
“There are so many beautiful things now. Whenever I get depressed, I take a look at the sky. It is so beautiful,” she concluded.