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VISUAL AND RECORDING ARTIST YOKO ONO TO BE AWARDED AN HONORARY DEGREE AT BARD COLLEGE ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29 The evening will also feature a screening of two films: Cut Piece and Apotheosis

Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.-On Tuesday, October 29, Bard College will celebrate the life and work of Yoko Ono, presenting her with the honorary degree of doctor of fine arts, as well as screening two of her films. The program, open to the public without charge, begins at 7:00 p.m. in Olin Hall.

In choosing to honor Ono, Peter Hutton, director of the Film and Electronic Arts Program at Bard says, "We are celebrating Yoko Ono, a multifaceted artist who has worked in film, video, installation, and music, and who has always brought an innovative language to the arts."

The event will begin with remarks by David E. Schwab II '52, chairman of the College's Board of Trustees. Leon Botstein, president of the College, will introduce Ono, who will be presented with the honorary degree by professor Peter Hutton and Marcelle Clements, a trustee of the College. Following the presentation, Ono will offer brief remarks and introduce the films.

The film Cut Piece (1965) is a documentation of a portion of an early Yoko Ono performance, in which Ono sat onstage and members of the audience were invited to come up and cut off pieces of her clothing. Apotheosis (1970) documents a hot-air balloon trip taken by Ono and John Lennon over the British countryside and up into, and finally above, the clouds.

"The Film and Electronic Arts program is honoring the body of film and video Ono has produced-first, as part of the Fluxus movement during the early '60s; then, on her own and in collaboration with John Lennon, during the late '60s; and, in more recent decades, once again, on her own," says Scott MacDonald, visiting professor of film at Bard. "She is to be congratulated for the body of work she has made, and celebrated for what she has come to represent, within media history and throughout the world: courage, resilience, persistence, independence, and, above all, imagination, and a belief that peace and love remain the way toward a brighter, ever-more-diverse human future."

For further information about the degree presentation and screening, call 845-758-7887.

About Yoko Ono:
Born in Tokyo in 1933 into a prominent banking family, part of Japan's social and intellectual elite, Yoko Ono received rigorous training in classical music, German lieder, and Italian opera. She attended an exclusive school where her schoolmates included Japan's present emperor, Akihito. Ono, raised partly in America, witnessed Japan's devastation in World War II, and by the time she entered Gakushuin University in 1952 as its first female philosophy student, she was swept up by the intellectual climate of the postwar Japanese avant-garde. This movement was characterized by a spirit of rebellion against all orthodoxy, a yearning for individual self-expression, and a desire for spiritual freedom in a landscape reduced to absolute nothingness by the ravages of warfare.

Disillusioned with academic philosophy, Ono left Japan to join her family in New York, where her father was an executive of the Bank of Tokyo, America. After attending Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, for three years, Ono gravitated to the vibrant art community of lower Manhattan. At the time, non-Western cultures, especially those of China and Japan, were inspiring new forms of artistic expression. Ono was welcomed as a representative of that Eastern sensibility that found beauty and art in everyday existence and chance events, and favored artistic expression and thought through interactive participation.

A loose association of many of these artists in Europe, Asia, and America was eventually formed under the name of Fluxus. The group experimented with mixing poetry, music, and the visual arts, through a wide spectrum of activities including concerts and events. Ono was central to the development of Fluxus and her presentations in New York from 1960-62 launched a career that would take her back to Japan-where she became an active member of the Tokyo avant-garde-and again to New York. She settled in London in 1966, where the Indica Gallery show that included Ceiling Painting (Yes Painting) took place.

In the decades since this London show, Ono has continued to enlarge the boundaries of her art in diverse media. After her marriage to John Lennon in 1969, she collaborated with him on a number of musical projects, creating a bridge between avant-garde music and popular rock in such releases as Unfinished Music for Two Virgins (1968), Wedding Album (1969), and Double Fantasy (1980). Their happenings, Bed-Ins for Peace, and the billboard campaign War Is Over! If You Want It, were landmark projects created to promote world peace, a continuing theme in their work together. One of her most recent works is a pair of billboards at Times Square in Manhattan, containing stark black lower-case letters over a pure white background that quote portions of the lyric to "Imagine."

During the 1980s, influenced by the rampant materialism of the decade, Ono revisited some of her 1960s objects. She transformed works that were originally light and transparent into bronze, symbolizing a shift from what she calls "the Sixties sky" to the new "age of commodity and solidity." In the 1990s Ono's prolific output of interactive installations, site-specific works, Internet projects, concerts, and recordings have been widely represented in numerous venues across Europe, American, Japan, and Australia. The first American retrospective exhibition of her work, YES YOKO ONO, was on tour throughout the United States in 2000-01.

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This event was last updated on 10-18-2002