Yoko Ono at Carnegie Hall, 1961


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December 7, 1961, Vol. VII, No. 7

Life and Art

By Jill Johnston

Yoko Ono gave “works” at the Carnegie Recital Hall on November 24. Yoko Ono combines electronic sounds, vocal and instrumental sounds, body movement, and movement of properties in her theatre of events. I was alternately stupefied and aroused, with longer stretches of stupor, as one might feel when relaxing into a doze induced by a persistent mumble of low-toned voices. A huddle of men in “A Place for Strawberries and Violin” went on like that for quite a while. Not much happened. Yvonne Rainer the dancer was nice to look at as she sat still on a chair, also as she did an “excercise” in excruciating slow motion of bending the knees, contracting the abdomen, and grimacing the facial muscles. I like the ending of this piece. Miss Rainer and another girl had been eating uneventfully at a table center stage. A man from the huddle joined them. They began spitting their pits closer to the mike — concealed somewhere on the table — and breaking or cracking table litter over it. Another man walked round the table tearing off pieces of newspaper, and pretty soon the table was a scene of muted carnage.

The boredom of “Aos — to David Tudor” split open twice: when a(nother) huddle of men made a racket of beer cans tied to their legs which were bound with rope; and when three men rushed in and out alternately piling up and removing a toilet bowl and a weird assortment of boxes. That was funny. And then Yoko Ono, I presume it was Yoko Ono, concluded the work with amplified sighs, breathing, gasping, retching, screaming – many tones of pain and pleasure mixed with a jibberish of foreign-sounding language that as no language at all.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 14, 2009


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