Trends, interactive shopping



hitch-thumb surreal paolo


Scribbled handwriting on a white wall says: “This room is bright blue.” A piece of text on the floor claims: “This is the ceiling.” Another note reveals: “This room glows in the dark while you are asleep.”

To The Light, Yoko Ono’s major exhibition, now showing at the Serpentine Gallery, invites you to let your imagination take flight – as you explore the potential of the world around you.

Spanning work from the sixties to the present year, the show thematically explores the work of this critically celebrated multi-media artist. A creatively generous exhibition: it offers viewers a renewed sense of optimism in return for their time, curiosity and smiles.

Part of the London 2012 Festival, the exhibition champions international togetherness, finding a timely appropriateness with all things Olympics 2012. #smilesfilm, Ono’s latest work, summoning individuals to snap and share their smiles worldwide. This hashtag entitled work uses social media to garner its global grins. Visitors to the exhibition can add themselves  to the world’s biggest database of smiles; uploaded via Twitter and Instagram – as well as the dedicated iPhone application & #smilesfilm website. Hailing this as her biggest goal in film making, her aim is: “to make a film which includes a smiling face snap of every single human being in the world”.

Despite Ono’s positive outlook, the exhibition opens with a solemn message – told through three mounds of earth. Labeled Country A, Country B and Country C, they serve as a reminder of the man-made nature of war in ever-changing zones of conflict. A single poster, designed by Yoko Ono and John Lennon, adorns the wall behind, reading ‘WAR IS OVER (if you want it)’. Despite the exhibition exploring dark matters of war, violence and persecution, the values of light, hope and optimism make up the overriding narratives.

Journeying to the next room, an instruction on the wall explains a painted scrap on the floor: “Leave a piece of canvas or finished painting on the floor or in the street.” Painting To Be Stepped On frames Yoko Ono’s role as a pioneer of conceptual art. The title of the work references a gruelling test, which Seventeenth century Japanese authorities made suspected Christians undergo: forcing them to step on images of Jesus and Mary, and betray their faith.

One of Yoko Ono’s earlier instruction pieces, Painting To Be Stepped On, also shows how language can shift art from a finished object to an interactive process that demands the viewer’s involvement – think of it as user generated content 2.0.

With artworks tucked away on a high shelf, adorning the grass outside and written on the ceiling, Ono’s show is a treat for wandering eyes. Through her trademark black glasses, visitors can explore a woman’s role in society. The imagination’s potential to transcend the everyday, and our relationship with the space around us. Highlights include AMAZE, a surprisingly difficult to navigate Perspex maze – which rewards those brave enough to remove their shoes, and venture inside.

The artist herself best sums up the show’s call to action: “Let’s dream together and go to the light.”


Yoko Ono: TO THE LIGHT at Serpentine Gallery runs from 19th June to 9th September 2012

London 2012 Festival runs across the UK from 21st June to 9th September 2012

Download the #smilesfilm iphone app here.