Who is Yoko Ono? She is one of the most famous figures in the world, yet also one of the most misunderstood, enigmatic, and, at times, vilified. Quite often, what we think about Ono says more about us than about the artist herself. Do we want to know her, or are we content with myth and stereotype?
For most of her career, Ono has been carelessly marked by the culture at large–as the harpy who broke up our beloved Beatles, the shrieking voice behind those unlistenable records. But what do our images of Ono say about our understanding of otherness? What do they say about art? Or icons? Truth? Transformation?
To coincide with the September release of Ono's new album Between My Head and the Sky, Bitch asked 20 well-known musicians, writers, visual artists, and scholars–some who have met or worked with Ono, some who know her only through their admiration or critique of her work–for their thoughts on how one woman has come to stand for so much.
Who is Yoko Ono? This is exactly who we think she is...
Since 2006, the elusive guerrilla artist known as Princess Hijab has been subverting Parisian billboards, to a mixed reception. Her anonymity irritates her critics, many of whom denounce her as extremist and antifeminist; when she recently conceded, in the pages of a German newspaper, that she wasn't a Muslim, it opened the floodgates to avid speculation in the blogosphere. If her claim of being a 21-year-old Muslim girl was only partially true, some wondered what the real message was behind her self-described "artistic jihad."
the traveling spoken-word gang Sister Spit started five years ago as a weekly open mike where grrrly-type poets and performers could ply their trade at San Francisco bars and coffeehouses. In 1997, co-ringleader Michelle Tea, author of the charming and intimate memoir The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America, and her partner-in-crime Sini Anderson, who has rocked poetry scenes from subway stations to Lollapalooza and everywhere in between, kicked off the annual Sister Spit Road Show.
“I never intended this book to be published,” writes Phoebe Gloeckner in the introduction to her new collection, A Child’s Lifeand Other Stories. Perusing these finely drawn, mostly autobiographical comic works, which span twenty years, it’s not difficult to see why its creator might be wary of foisting her stories on a public whose idea of an enjoyable narrative is Titanic. Gloeckner’s unsparing memory and painstakingly detailed pen-and-ink drawings of family dysfunction, childhood cruelty, and queasy sex make for seriously disquieting reading. The book takes us through the years with Gloeckner’s alter ego Minnie, whose childhood is dominated by her overbearing, ogling stepfather and whose adolescence is spent on the streets of San Francisco in a morass of unsavory drugs and even less savory men.