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Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind at Tate Modern REVIEW

As I climbed the wide stairs of Tate Modern's Blavatnik Building to see the Yoko One show, I realised that I had no idea what to expect. Beyond a vague notion that she was a conceptual artist, I am afraid that my overriding association when it comes to Yoko is of her in bed with John, Peace-ing out.

Walk in, through a darkened space with a phone ringing, Ono's voice picking up, you know this is going to be an immersive show. Ono grew up in Japan, attended university in Tokyo (its first ever female philosophy student), before moving to New York in 1953 to study poetry and musical composition. From the very beginning, whether using sound, poetry or objects, her work is performative and participatory. Most pieces include detailed 'instructions' as to how they should be carried out. In one room, the instructions become the art themselves, beautifully written out in Japanese calligraphy.

It is an invitation to take part - to be the piece - and kids will ADORE it. There is so much to get stuck in with. Put on a black stretchy bag and see what it feels like to move around in the dark; trace your shadow on a wall, bang a nail into a board (and tie a hair round it); sit and play chess at an all-white chessboard for as long as you can remember which piece is yours (longer than you might think!).

Around you as you take part are photographs, films, sculptures. Stand in front of a giant video screen showing an ever-changing series of naked bums (there are 200 of them, on repeat for an hour and twenty minutes). Flop onto a beanbag and watch Yoko and John on their Bed-In for Peace where they recorded Give Peace a Chance; take a piece of jigsaw puzzle sky out of a suspended WW2 army helmet; add to an ever-evolving mural in Add Colour (Refugee Boat) - instruction, 'Just blue. Like the ocean'.

In the last room, The Personal is Political, you are invited to think about your mother and write something on a piece of paper and add it to the wall montage. You leave the exhibition past a screen of 80 year old Ono repeating (sometimes screaming) the words, 'I wish ... let me wish.' Her wish, of course, is for peace.

In the space outside the exhibition there are two olive Peace Trees. The messages that have been tied onto them run from heartfelt, personal calls for an end to wars to a very little person's wish that they can fly.

Peace, love, power. And a big dollop of quirky fun. A joy of a show for everyone from 1–101.

Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind Tate Modern, 15 Feb–1 Sept. Tickets: £20 adults, £5 ages 16–25 (sign up to Tate Collective), U16s free.


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