Friday, December 16, 2011

IMAGINE PEACE at University of La Verne

Hey Beatlemaniacs!

Recently, I attended one of the most moving and heart-warming art exhibits I have ever had the pleasure of seeing; Yoko Ono's IMAGINE PEACE exhibit at the University of La Verne in Southern California. This no-cost exhibit featured some of Yoko's solo works, as well as her works with John Lennon including the iconic WAR IS OVER! If You Want It posters, images of John and Yoko's Year Of Peace, and my new personal favourite Lennon/Ono venture, NUTOPIA.

Upon entering, catalogs were available with info and insight on all the various pieces and installments. Also up for grabs were IMAGINE PEACE buttons and little flashlights representing Yoko's ONOCHORD project.

As you peruse through "Hair Peace" posters and photos from John and Yoko's "Bed-In", images from The Beatles' 1967 All You Need Is Love global broadcast, and WAR IS OVER posters, you can't help but notice the proverbial "pink elephants" in the room; a series of maps on the wall and a 14-square-foot chess set.

First, the maps are part of a participation piece called IMAGINE PEACE MAPS. The maps range from the Middle East, the USA, California, Mexico, and a complete map of the whole world. At each end of the maps are several stamps and ink pads;

"Visitors are invited to literalize their wishes by stamping the phrase 'Imagine Peace' on maps attached to the gallery walls. In this work, Ono transforms the exhibition space into the antithesis of the War Room - the Peace Room. Instead of generals positioning artillery, identifying military targets, and tracking the enemy, gallery visitors are prompted to express their wishes for peace, designating geographic locations to which they have a special affinity with the stamped text, 'Imagine Peace', becoming as much a prayer as a work of conceptual art." (from the gallery-provided catalog)

I, myself, stamped "Imagine Peace" over the Mexican states of Chiapas, in support of the Zapatista Movement, and Zacatecas; my father's home state.
I also managed to stamp this as a reminder to the "world police"...

What really put the whole Imagine Peace Maps message into perspective was seeing the map of the whole world with the "Imagine Peace" stamping heavily scattered throughout. It was a reality check-inducing representation of what the world strives for and could accomplish, of course, if we want it.

Second; As mentioned before, the exhibit also featured a 14-square-foot chess board, entitled Play It By Trust. The chess set is all-white with 2-foot, all-white game pieces for both opponents. Play It By Trust has been re-created by Ono in various different sizes; from table-top versions to the larger-than-life version seen at this exhibit. Visitors may actually play a game of chess "as long as the opponents agree on which piece belongs to each player. Los Angeles art critic, Shana Nys Dambrot describes the giant chess set as "a visceral reminder that it’s impossible to fight an enemy who is indistinguishable from yourself."

As I was leaving the gallery I was informed that Yoko Ono's Wish Tree was also on the campus of the University of La Verne in the next building over. Without hesitation, I went to see the tree and make my own wish. Below is the tree at La Verne before any wishes were made. Believe me, when I got there hundreds of wishes were already hanging on its branches.

Wish Tree has played a significant role in Yoko Ono's art exhibits since the 1980's. The concept is simple; you write your wish on a paper or a tag and simply tie it on a branch of the Wish Tree. The organic energy of the tree combined the act of making a wish is intended to aide in inspiring positivity, hope, and peace.

But who better to explain Wish Tree than Yoko Ono?...

"Wish Tree

Make a wish. Write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of the Wish Tree.
Ask your friend to do the same.

Keep wishing.

Yoko Ono, 2011"

Ultimately, all of the wishes are sent to the Imagine Peace Tower on the Isle of Videy in Iceland and buried in capsules around the tower. So far, well over one-million wishes have been sent.

In summation, IMAGINE PEACE was a very insightful and inspiring multi-media collection of images, video, music, text, art, and love. I strongly suggest you look it up to see when the exhibit comes to a town near you.

Peace is a concept and ideal best initiated from within. You must believe peace is possible and help spread the message as far and as loudly as you can.

No comments:

Post a Comment