If it wasn’t for a certain Beatle no-one, of course, would be interested in Yoko Ono’s retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery, but she’s embedded in our culture now. She’s a lot like Tracey Emin in that she can’t draw or paint or sculpt, but she has a vivid scatological imagination, which is what makes her interesting. After she’d caught her Beatle and put him in a matchbox she released a film called “Bottoms” which consisted of footage of 365 backsides, some clips of which are being shown at the Serpentine, together with Fly, a film of flies flitting about a naked woman’s body, particularly her vaginal area. To think that Tracey Emin had hardly been born when these films were made. There are also lots of images of a famous precursor to the unmade bed- with John and Yoko in it, fighting for peace. I was amused to see that John is pictured wearing Turnbull and Asser pyjamas, of a style identical to the pyjamas I wear now.
Yoko has always excelled at getting the public to interact with her art. John Lennon first got to know her after he visited her exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London, where one of her exhibits was a white ladder which viewers were invited to climb and then to take a magnifying glass hanging from the ceiling and read the word ‘YES’ written in tiny letters on a sheet. Lennon said he was relieved to find that Yoko’s text was not the “negative…smash the piano with a hammer, break the sculpture, boring, negative crap” that he expected to find in modern art. At the entrance to the Serpentine Yoko has a new interactive piece entitled Wish Trees, where the public are invited to write a message of hope and attach it to a tree. Some of the messages were on the usual anodyne subjects such as world peace but one had a particular relevance to the exhibits inside. It read: “I hope that the pain in my bottom crack will get better soon”.