India will be learning experience: Yoko Ono

New Delhi: Artist and musician Yoko Ono is showcasing in India a new special project that pays tribute to Indian women, in her first visit to the country after the death of late husband and Beatles` legend John Lennon.

The project comprises an exhibition titled "Our Beautiful Daughters," a series of public art projects spread over 20 venues including schools and hospitals in the city and "To India with love", a performance by the Ono who is renowned for her conceptual and live art work.

"I did not bring anything to India apart from myself. This visit will be a great learning experience… This beautiful very very grand land will teach me," said Ono here today, a day before the unveiling of her first ever exhibition in the country at the Vadehra Art Gallery here.

Sitting against backdrop of a white canvas sporting two words `Dream` in English and `Sapna` in Hindi, the 78-year-old Japanese born artist dressed in a black suit and sporting a hat and trademark sunglasses, told reporters that she is here on a 10-day visit to explore experiences of women in society.

"I am very very happy to be here…It is fantastic that India has already woken up already to women in the art field….. I have to learn a lot from them about what is happening in India," she said.

Ono had first visited India with husband John Lenon. "I do not remember exactly what year we came here. It was definitely after the four men (the Beatles) came here. Eventually John and I had come here together," she said.

Ono has exhibited in museums across the world and was awarded the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement in Venice Biennale in 2009 and says her . "Our Beautiful Daughters" will be shown till March 10.

With her India show,Yoko Ono says she wants to extend her campaign for world peace.

"…society is getting madder and madder. I am talking to women who know about this and many many intelligent men too who are starting to know about this.. it is for us to make use of everybody`s energy to create a better world," said Ono.

Talking about her project here she says "Women have a unique nurturing quality… the men however feel that they can express power best in politics, legalese, creating war….the struggle for world peace and struggle for women power is parallel now… When we create a society of freedom, justice and peace we will have world peace."

Apart from the latest installation, the exhibition will also recall some of Yoko Ono`s legendary "instruction-based" works like "My Mommy is Beautiful" which invites viewers to cover empty walls and canvasses with messages and photographs of their mother as a dedication to motherhood and love.

"The art work is definitely inspired by emotion… and an incredible respect for Indian women," said the artist whose career has been filled with work encompassing performance, film, music and writing that challenges people`s understanding of art and the world around them.

Yoko Ono said Lennon and she had visited the camp of Sai Baba near Mumbai during their visit to India. The artist had married the Beatles singer in 1969.
"We had been in Bombay for a couple of nights and gone on all the way to the mountains to the camp of Sai Baba. It was an incredible experience….We felt it was important to sit in his lecture and John insisted that we sit together despite women and men not being permitted to sit together," recollected Ono.

During her India trip Ono is also exhibiting her "Wish Tree" that has has played a significant part in many of her exhibitions since the 1990s. Under this project people are invited to write their wishes on paper and hang it on a tree, a sort of collective prayer.

"Wish tree is a very Japanese.. when I began to do it I became very humble… also I didn`t want to do it in the traditional way and wanted it to be very Yoko Ono way. Wish Tree is my hit song if you can call it that way. When I first did in Los Angeles there was not much response. but in Spain it generated a fantastic response. It was incredible and there were more and more wish trees," said Ono who said she already tagged her wish at the tree in Delhi.

The wishes from trees at various venues in the capital will be added to the current wishes totaling a million will be sent to the Imagine Peace tower, a memorial for Lennon created by Ono in 2007 on the isle of Videy in Iceland.
"It is a very strong light tower with a million wishes at bottom. We can move mountains with so many wishes," she said.

About her live performance Ono said she was clueless. "Each performance show is different depending on who is there and what feeling I get from the audience," she said.

Ono, who explores conceptual art work, created a controversy when her "Cut Piece" was performed in London. The performance piece involved the artist kneeling on stage and inviting audience members to cut through her draped garment till she was nude.

Apart from a series of public art projects co-organised by Vadhera Art Gallery and the Japan Foundation, a parallel exhibition "The Seeds" will showcase Ono`s earlier work- archive of her films, music, and collaborations with Lennon and other artists.