Yoko Ono Imagines Peace with the World

Yesterday, on 10/9/07, John Lennon's birthday, Yoko Ono unveiled the Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik, Iceland.

John & Yoko began the "Imagine Peace" as a part of the anti-war effort against the US occupation of Vietnam in the late 1960s. They utilized mass media, such as magazines, newspapers, billboards, and television, as a convenient vehicle to spread pacifism to a wide audience. A famous project central to their campaign was the Bed-in, which John & Yoko conceived as two week-long press-conference-like performance art events in a hotel room in first in Amsterdam, then in Montreal following their celebrity wedding, with the objective of turning the star-craving media attention upon themselves into a sit-in protesting against the Vietnam War. During the course of the week, John & Yoko spoke to celebrity politicians, activists, world leaders who visited and phoned in to discuss issues related to war, violence, inequalities, pacifist strategies, media, etc. Dressed in all-white pajamas, they held protest signs and led sing-alongs with other musicians.

To John & Yoko, world peace is a possibility only after a critical mass of people first imagine it as a possibility and adopt it in their everyday lives. Yoko Ono, now 74 years old, has extended the John & Yoko anti-war agenda into the early 21st century political and technological context. The most recent form of the "Imagine Peace" campaign involves the implementation of her website, a virtual hub to enlist people around the world, via virtual communication, to rehearse the idea of peace by repeating the mantra of "imagine peace" in various ways in their daily lives. For example, there are desktop graphics, website banners, and Myspace icons that people can download to post as their signature Myspace photos. [Ono also has a Myspace.] In addition, on her website, Ono has included an instructional page for her performance art piece "Wish Piece", soliciting participants to create and display personally designed peace-ful messages on a tree, re-contextualizing a Japanese tradition for the objective of world peace.

Last night, the Imagine Peace Tower, a large, minimalist structured light beam, projected upward into the pitch black sky of Reykjavik's night with dignity and strength. I watched the unveiling ceremony broadcast on Icelandic TV last night. When the children's choir sang "Imagine" in Icelandish, the brims of my eyes got a little moist. The spectacle exuded peace, serenity, warmth and social connectedness. Sean Lennon and Ringo Starr were present to celebrate the occasion.

Ono's production of peace hopefully speaks to an audience wider than ever before. I hope so. My sense is that people are starting to be rid of the Beatles-related myth about Ono. Seriously, how much hatred tinted with sexism and racism could the Beatles-loving world have for a 74-year-old passionate artist and eloquent peace activist?

[Disclaimer: I've been busy with grant proposals lately. I will actually be occupied with proposal writing until early November. There will be a bit of slacking with my blog posting, which means that I will be posting about events in slightly less critical and analytical manner.]


Caustic Castle said...

Excellent article Wendy! I bet you could get this published in Brick Weekly or Style, it's really well written and something a lot of people would read enthusiastically.

Anonymous said...

I love the Beatles and i never hated Yoko Ono.

In fact i <3 Yoko.

She is too cool.

I didn't know about here new Peace tower. I am glad you blogged it.

I will imagine peace too.