A.I.R. was the first feminist art gallery in North America and the artists that are part of A.I.R. were, and are, amazing, eye-opening, and perpetually inventive. I remember hearing about Yoko Ono in the context of a few of our events, so knowing that she was involved in feminist art piqued my interest about her, though I still never gave her the attention she deserved.
So when I saw she was having a show at the Museum of Modern Art, it was the perfect opportunity to learn more about her. I knew I would adore her, but I had no idea how funny and tongue-in-cheek much of her art was. It’s like dadaism and feminism all mingled together in what’s basically my idea of heaven.
The very first piece you see when walking into the show is “Apple,” which is, quite literally, an apple on a pedestal. It’s changed throughout the exhibit as each apple slowly deteriorates and rots, so the experience changes depending on the time you see the show. In the same vein, she had a piece right around the corner called “Painting to Be Stepped On,” which is as self-explanatory as it sounds.
It’s funny because so much of her stuff was meant to be interactive, to disrupt the typical museum-going experience, but for preservation’s sake, it wasn’t possible to touch. Still, the point came across – art is meant to inspire dialogue, it’s a two-way conversation between the artist and the viewer. In fact, it’s even possible to perform one of her pieces – “Bag Piece” – as part of the show.
Before leaving, I wandered through the museum until I found myself at Zoe Leonard’s “Analogue,” which is an extensive collection of photos printed using a vintage method, documenting the changing storefronts of New York City. As a sentimentalist who suffers from far too much nostalgia about what New York used to be like, this exhibit really hit home. The pictures themselves were beautiful, even more so because they captured a very specific moment in time. They’re fragments of what was, and what can never return.
Between Ono’s art that continues to look forward, and Leonard’s documentation of the past, it was a really interesting trip. Both shows are there until about the end of August, so it’s time.