The Vancouver Art Gallery has a new exhibit this fall where you aren’t just observing the work, you’re participating and co-creating with Yoko Ono.
GROWING FREEDOM: The instructions of Yoko Ono and The art of John and Yoko reinvigorate the museum with a fresh look at the importance of imagination and participation in the work of Yoko Ono and John Lennon.
Split into two parts, the exhibit’s first instructional area literally draws the viewer in, telling them to participate in the art.
“There are a lot of moving parts to a show like this,” said curator Cheryl Sim. For Sim, Yoko Ono is her “spiritual homeplace.”
In the exhibits, Yoko Ono is “asking us to engage our minds in the instructions,” said Sim. “It really is about engaging in the works in a physical and spiritual way.”
Inside the gallery, instructional exhibits can be as simple as an exercise in imagination printed on the walls and putting a literal bag over your head.
There’s a table of broken cups that you’re asked to mend together with tape, glue, and string to create something beautiful out of destruction in a nod to the devastation of Hiroshima in 1945.
From hammering nails into a canvas and playing a game of chess to stamping on maps and writing notes – there are dozens of ways to explore and engage with the works.
Many of these pieces were made before the artist ever met John Lennon, and some of them were even performed at one point in Yoko Ono’s career. Now, you can engage with them in person for yourself.
The second part of the exhibit explores more works and focuses on Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s Canadian connections, including their meeting with Pierre Trudeau and the Montreal bed-in.
The Vancouver Art Gallery, which just celebrated its 90th anniversary, will open the exhibit on October 9 – John Lennon’s birthday. Vancouver is the third and final leg of the exhibit’s Canadian tour and it’s different each time it’s set up because Yoko Ono engages in each cities local culture, people, and artists.
For example, in an exhibit within an exhibit, Yoko Ono invited Indigenous artists to participate in Water Event where artists were asked to create vessels that hold water. And, Vancouver’s version of this exhibit has a cozy Young Activist Reading Room, filled with books featuring stories on diversity, inclusion, and self-love for children.
This is one exhibit where you won’t be walking around quietly with your hands in your pockets. You’ll be drawn in – body, mind, and soul.
When: October 9, 2021 to May 1, 2022
Time: Gallery hours 10 am to 5 pm, 12 pm to 8 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays
Where: Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver
Tickets: Online $24, admission by donation Tuesdays 5 pm to 8 pm