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Yoko Ono
By Jeff Tamarkin

Published October 16, 2005

The woman’s clothing is being snipped from her body. Systematically, one by one, 200 scissors-wielding strangers—and the woman’s son—silently have a go at the 70-year-old in the black silk skirt and matching long-sleeved top. By the time they are finished having their way with her, the woman will be wearing nothing but her undergarments.

Expressionless, indifferent, she is resigned to this; she knows that she will soon be nearly naked in public. But she is not embarrassed, nor afraid; she doesn’t recoil, doesn’t consider these acts a violation. These people, she is aware, are not cutting with malice in their hearts—they have no desire to hurt her, no intention of making her uncomfortable. The whole idea, after all, is the woman’s.

Sitting on the stage of the Ranelagh Theater in Paris last September, Yoko Ono is restaging one of her most controversial conceptual works, “Cut Piece.”

Like so many other Ono events of the past four decades, there are two reasons why she’s subjecting herself to something that others might consider humiliating: one, because she has always sought to involve her audience in her art and to force a reaction; and two, to try to bring about a better world. “Following the political changes through the year after 9/11, I felt terribly vulnerable—like the most delicate wind could bring me tears,” she wrote in a presentation for the show. “‘Cut Piece’ is my hope for world peace.”

She is no stranger to vulnerability, but she still thinks in the affirmative. A beautiful book devoted to her life and work was simply titled Yes Yoko Ono.

Ono first performed “Cut Piece” back in 1964, when she was a struggling avant-garde artist trying to make a name for herself in her native Japan. Then, she has explained, she “did it with some anger and turbulence in my heart.” This time, she says, “I do it with love for you, for me, and for the world.”

She doesn’t need to explain how slicing up her clothes might possibly help bring about peace. Ono has always operated in this way: By drawing attention to herself, she brings awareness to her cause. The message is in the medium. The message, as always, is peace.

The audience in Paris has been given an instruction: Yoko would like each person who chops away to take the scrap of apparel they have removed from her person and give it to someone they love. After all she’s been through—and she’s endured more than her share of pain—Yoko Ono still believes in the good stuff, in hopes and dreams and “all you need is love.”




It is one of the hottest, muggiest days of the summer when I arrive at the Dakota apartment complex on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. (If you can call it that—the Dakota is to most apartment buildings like caviar is to Egg McMuffin). It’s an imposing structure, even today, more than a century after it was erected. Actress Lauren Bacall has lived there, as did Leonard Bernstein, Judy Garland, Boris Karloff and many other celebs. The Roman Polanski film Rosemary’s Baby was filmed within its ult

Yoko Ono Discography


Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (1968)
Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions (1969)
Wedding Album (1969)
Live Peace In Toronto (1969)
Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band (1970)
Fly (1971)
Sometime In New York City (1972)
Approximately Infinite Universe (1973)
Feeling The Space (1973)
Double Fantasy (1980)
Season Of Glass (1981)
It's Alright (I See Rainbows) (1982)
Milk And Honey (1984)
Every Man Has A Woman (1984)
Starpeace (1985)
Onobox (1992)
Walking On Thin Ice (1992)
Rising (1995)

A Story (1997)
New York Rock (1995)
Rising Mixes (1996)
Blueprint For A Sunrise (2001)



Selected Yoko Ono Bibliography



Wunternaum Press (1964) Tokyo

Reprinted by Simon and Schuster
New York (1970)

The Playboy Interviews With John Lennon and Yoko Ono
By David Sheff and G. Barry Golson
Playboy Press (1980)


The Ballad Of John And Yoko
By Jonathan Cott, Christine Doudna/Rolling Stone
Doubleday (1982)


Summer Of 1980
By Yoko Ono
Perigee Publishing (1983)

Yoko Ono

By Jerry Hopkins
Macmillan (1986)


Sometime In New York City
By John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Bob Gruen
Genesis Publications (1995)


YES Yoko Ono
By Alexandra Munroe and Jon Hendricks
Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (2000)



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