Major Yoko Ono retrospective at Tate Modern, London

Tate Modern presents a momentous tribute to the groundbreaking legacy of artist and activist Yoko Ono (b. 1933, Tokyo) in the UK’s largest exhibition dedicated to her influential work. From March 17 to November 24, 2024, visitors are invited to embark on an immersive journey through seven decades of Ono’s dynamic and multidisciplinary practice, tracing the evolution of her visionary contributions to conceptual and participatory art, film, music, and activism.

Curated in collaboration with Ono’s studio, “Yoko Ono: Music Of The Mind” unveils over 200 works that encapsulate the artist’s radical exploration of language, art, and participation, resonating with the zeitgeist of contemporary culture. At the core of Ono’s artistic ethos lies a profound interrogation of ideas, expressed through poetic, humorous, and thought-provoking mediums that transcend conventional boundaries.

The exhibition commences with a retrospective examination of Ono’s seminal role in experimental avant-garde circles in New York and Tokyo, spotlighting her pioneering ‘instruction pieces’—written directives that beckon readers to engage, imagine, and complete the artwork. From minimalist verbs like “FLY” and “TOUCH” to evocative phrases such as “Listen to a heartbeat” and “Step in all the puddles in the city,” Ono’s instructions serve as catalysts for unlocking the imagination.

Yoko Ono, Music In Her Mind, tate Modern, 2024

Unveiling previously unseen photographs from Ono’s early years, the exhibition offers glimpses into her loft studio in New York, where she co-hosted experimental concerts with composer La Monte Young, and her inaugural solo exhibition at AG Gallery in 1961. Displayed for the first time in the UK, the typescript draft of Ono’s groundbreaking anthology “Grapefruit” (1953-1964) invites visitors to activate her instructions, immersing themselves in interactive experiences like “Bag Piece 1964” and “Shadow Piece 1963.”

The exhibition’s centerpiece delves into Ono’s transformative tenure in London from 1966, where she intersected with a vibrant countercultural milieu, culminating in her collaboration with John Lennon. Iconic installations from Ono’s influential exhibitions at Indica and Lisson Gallery, including “Apple 1966” and “Half-A-Room 1967,” are juxtaposed with her banned film “No. 4 (Bottoms) 1966-7,” amplifying her impassioned plea for peace amidst the tumultuous social climate.

Yoko Ono, Music In Her Mind, tate Modern, 2024

Across decades and mediums, recurring themes such as the sky and feminism emerge as poignant motifs in Ono’s oeuvre, symbolizing notions of peace, freedom, and empowerment. From the transcendental allure of “SKY TV” (1966) to the provocative feminist anthems “Sisters O Sisters” (1972) and “Woman Power” (1973), Ono’s art reverberates with a steadfast commitment to social justice and equality.

Beyond the confines of traditional art spaces, Ono’s advocacy for peace and humanitarian causes takes center stage, epitomized by collaborative endeavors like “Acorns for Peace” (1969) and the iconic billboard campaign “WAR IS OVER!” (1969). Tate Modern’s exhibition extends into its architectural fabric, with interventions like “PEACE is POWER” adorning gallery windows and interactive artworks like “Wish Tree” inviting visitors to contribute their aspirations for a harmonious world.

As the exhibition draws to a close, visitors are invited to participate in “My Mommy Is Beautiful,” a poignant installation allowing individuals to honor maternal figures by affixing photographs and messages onto a sprawling canvas—a testament to the enduring resonance of Ono’s message of love and compassion.

Yoko Ono, Music In Her Mind, tate Modern, 2024